Vizcaino homers for Astros

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Roy Oswalt gave the stumbling Houston Astros a
much-needed lift.

Oswalt held the San Diego Padres in check into the eighth
inning, leading the Astros to a 5-1 victory on Thursday night to
halt a three-game losing streak.

Oswalt, who has been inconsistent during the first half of the
season, won his fourth consecutive start and allowed the Astros to
stay nine games back of first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.

"It was a must win for us," said Jose Vizcaino, who tied his
season high with four hits. "We've been struggling and can't get
too much further back."

Vizcaino set the tone in the first inning when he hit a two-run
homer off Jake Peavy as Houston took a 3-0 lead. Vizcaino also
doubled twice and had a walk.

"Viz getting two runs (in the first) gets you in the mode to go
right after their guys," Oswalt said. "That's what I tried do all
night, be aggressive."

Oswalt (8-6) gave up one run on six hits. The right-hander
struck out six and walked three, including two straight with one
out in the eighth inning that prompted manager Jimy Williams to
replace him with Brad Lidge.

Lidge came in and struck out Ryan Klesko before getting out of
the inning on Jeff Cirillo's groundout. Lidge pitched the ninth
inning for his sixth save.

"I felt (Oswalt) had done his job," Williams said. "It was
uncharacteristic for him to walk people. I felt it was the right
move to make."

Oswalt improved to 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA against San Diego. He did
not allow a baserunner to reach third base until the seventh

"I've been struggling with my curveball," Oswalt said. "But
tonight, I worked through it and felt pretty good and threw some
good pitches."

San Diego had its eight-game home winning streak snapped and
fell .001 percent behind Los Angeles for first place in the NL

"(Oswalt) has an 97 mph fastball, then he takes 30 mph off with
the curveball and he throws them both for strikes," Jay Payton
said. "We put wood on the curveball every now and then, but we
were so far out in front, we didn't do much damage with it."

Peavy (5-3) surrendered four runs on seven hits in his shortest
start of the season. Peavy was making his second start since coming
off the disabled list on July 2.

"It was an uphill battle," said Peavy, who threw 57 pitches in
the first two innings. "Coming back, you know you're not going to
be as sharp as when you left. I made some bad pitches and couldn't
catch any breaks."

Houston left 14 runners on base and failed to score with the
bases loaded in the first, second and sixth.

Khalil Greene had an RBI single in the seventh for the Padres,
who lost for the first time in six games.

Carlos Beltran drove in two runs for Houston with a sacrifice
fly and an RBI single in the seventh that increased the Astros'
lead to 5-0.

Adam Everett added a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first
inning, but Peavy escaped trouble after intentionally walking Raul
Chavez with two outs to load the bases by getting Oswalt on a

The Astros loaded the bases in the second with two outs, but
Peavy induced Mike Lamb to ground to first.

Game notes
Oswalt had his streak of consecutive innings without
allowing a walk stopped at 32 2-3. ... Astros third-base coach Gene
Lamont was ejected by third base umpire Terry Craft in the top of
the sixth inning for arguing that Padres pitcher Jay Witasick was
not coming set in his motion before each pitch. ... Peavy's ERA
rose from 1.98 to 2.43. ... The Astros recalled RHP Brandon
Duckworth from Triple-A New Orleans after Wednesday night's game
and optioned INF Chris Burke to New Orleans. Duckworth is scheduled
to start Thursday night at Los Angeles.