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Astros win 11th straight, edge Reds

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roy Oswalt appreciates the run support Houston's
offense has been giving him and the rest of the Astros' starting
pitchers.

Oswalt (17-9) became the National League's first 17-game winner
and the Astros extended their winning streak to 11 games with a 9-7
victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

"When you get a three- or four-run cushion, you can go right at
them and make them hit the ball early in the count and keep your
pitch count down," Oswalt said.

Houston has been averaging nearly 10 runs per game during its
streak. The Astros have also scored six or more runs in a
franchise-record 11 straight games and have scored 104 runs in
during that span.

"We're going to be hard to catch if we keep this up," Oswalt
said.

Oswalt gave up four runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings, improving
to 9-1 in his last 11 starts and 11-0 in 15 career games against
the Reds. He struck out nine and walked three.

"I haven't really thought much about it, but since they don't
have the same guys every year it's hard to explain," Oswalt said.
"The big thing is that I always get good run support against
them."

Oswalt spent much of Monday night at the hospital with his wife
Nicole, who gave birth to their first child, Arlee Faith, earlier
that day.

"I didn't get much sleep, but it didn't effect me much," he
said. "I did get a little tired in the seventh though."

Mike Lamb homered and drove in four runs and Carlos Beltran hit
a two-run shot for the Astros, who are on the second-longest
winning streak in club history. The team record is 12 straight from
Sept. 3-14, 1999.

The Astros have won 14 of their last 15, and 19 of their last 22
in improving to 31-19 since the All-Star break. They entered the
night just ½ game behind Chicago in the NL wild-card race.

"They are the hottest team in baseball," Reds manager Dave
Miley said. "It seems like any mistake we make, they jump on it.
Oswalt threw the ball real well and we didn't do much."

Lamb is 8-for-12 with 10 RBI in the last three games.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable at the plate because of the
way things have been going for everybody in the lineup. It takes a
lot of pressure off of you in RBI situations when everybody is
hitting the ball," Lamb explained.

Beltran left in the seventh after being hit by a pitch from
Aaron Myette. The team said he bruised his right elbow and is day
to day.

"Right now, I can't bend my arm," Beltran said. "I just hope
I can wake up tomorrow feeling better and be back in the lineup."

Sean Casey homered twice and Jason LaRue added a three-run shot
for the Reds, who have lost two in a row and nine of 11.

LaRue was impressed with Oswalt.

"You name it, he does everything. He throws the ball 96 or 97
and every pitch is dominating," LaRue said. "He's got a straight
fastball, a cutter, a slider and an unbelievable curve."

Paul Wilson (9-6) lost his third straight decision, allowing
seven runs and seven hits in five innings. He's winless since July
8, when he beat Milwaukee.

With the game tied at 2 in the third, Lance Berkman hit a
two-out double and scored on Kent's RBI double to left. Lamb
followed with a two-run homer -- his 11th -- on an 0-1 pitch from
Wilson.

Lamb is 8-for-13 with 10 RBI in his last three games.

Houston moved ahead 7-2 in the fifth. Beltran hit a leadoff
triple, and Jeff Bagwell and Berkman each walked to load the bases.
One out later, Lamb hit a sacrifice fly to score Beltran. After
Jose Vizcaino was intentionally walked, Wilson threw a wild pitch
that allowed Bagwell to score.

The Astros added two runs in the sixth on Beltran's 38th homer
of the season -- his 23rd with Houston.

LaRue hit a three-run shot in the eighth, and Casey hit a
two-run homer in the ninth to make it 9-7.

Houston took a 2-0 in the second inning when Kent led off with a
walk, moved to second on Lamb's single and scored on single by Raul
Chavez. Biggio then drove in Lamb with a single.

Cincinnati tied it at two in the third on Casey's two-run shot
off Oswalt.

Game notes
Houston has scored six or more runs in a club-record 11
consecutive games. ... Houston has scored 104 runs and has 135 hits
in its last 11 games. ... Adam Dunn has the highest RBI total (87)
of any player in the major leagues this season without a sacrifice
fly ... LaRue set a Reds club record when he was hit by a pitch for
the 21st time this season. He's second in the NL behind
Pittsburgh's Craig Wilson.