Bagwell's blast backs Oswalt's strong showing

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds came to Houston unbeaten and
hopeful about their chances to turn around a suddenly lopsided
rivalry with the Astros.

Three straight losses proved that little has changed for the
Reds, at least in this NL Central matchup.

Jeff Bagwell hit a tiebreaking two-run homer and Roy Oswalt
pitched seven strong innings to lead the Astros to their fourth
straight win, 5-2 over Cincinnati on Sunday.

"We would have liked to have had a better showing here," said
Reds slugger Adam Dunn, who went 1-for-4. "But it's not the end of
the world. We just couldn't get the big hit at the right time, like
we did the series before."

Bagwell homered in the fifth to give Houston a 4-2 lead and
Morgan Ensberg followed with a solo shot for the Astros, who won
their series-record 11th consecutive game -- eight last season --
against Cincinnati. Houston won 10 straight against their longtime
division rival in 2003.

"I don't know what happens," Astros manager Phil Garner said
of his club's streak against the Reds. "It's just a strange

Russ Springer pitched a hitless eighth and Brad Lidge got the
three outs for his third save in the last four games.

After a poor start in an opening day loss to St. Louis, Oswalt
(1-1) rebounded with another dominating effort against the Reds.
Oswalt limited Cincinnati to two runs on five hits, but walked five
and struck out only two.

"I was a little wild ... but I felt I made some good pitches
when I had to," Oswalt said. "Call it effectively wild. I was
just wild enough that they couldn't concentrate. Sometimes when
you're wild it helps you."

He improved to 12-0 in 16 career appearances -- 14 starts --
against the Reds. Only Pedro Martinez (13-0 against Seattle) has
won more games against one team without a loss.

"I hope it's not a fluke," Oswalt said. "I hope it keeps

Pitching on three days' rest and battling the flu, Eric Milton
couldn't prevent the Reds' third straight loss following a
season-opening three-game sweep of the New York Mets.

Milton, who led the NL with 43 homers allowed in 2004, gave up
three Sunday, including a solo shot to Craig Biggio in the first.

Cincinnati's new lefty lasted only 4 1-3 innings, allowing five
runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk. Milton dropped
to 0-3 in four career starts on short rest.

"I was weak, but my arm felt fine," Milton said. "I may have
just hit a wall there in the fifth. I didn't have a lot of gas left
... it just wasn't there today."

The Reds couldn't hold an early lead against Houston -- same as
Saturday when the Astros rallied from a 3-0 deficit.

Wily Mo Pena tied the game at 1-all in the second, sending an
Oswalt fastball into deep left, a 408-foot shot that bounced off
the replica 1860 railroad tracks atop a 58-foot wall.

Dunn added a run-scoring triple off the right-field wall in the
fourth, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.

But Astros rookie Chris Burke scored on Willy Taveras' sacrifice
fly to center in the bottom of the inning, and Houston went ahead
for good in the fifth on homers by Bagwell and Ensberg.

"They came up with the big hits and we didn't," Reds manager
Dave Miley said. "We just couldn't get over the hump."

Biggio went 3-for-4 with a double and the homer. He also stole
third base in the seventh, making him the sixth player in league
history with 100 career steals of third.

Burke, making his first start in the majors, also finished

Cincinnati continues its grueling road trip Tuesday with two
games against NL defending champ St. Louis. The Astros, meanwhile,
head to New York for a three-game series against the 1-5 Mets,
starting Monday.

It will be Houston's first time facing Carlos Beltran since he
left for the Mets in free agency this offseason.

Game notes
Houston swept a series against the Reds for the third
straight time. ... Bagwell hit his 448th career homer. ... With
three hits Sunday, Biggio passed Jimmie Foxx for 65th place in
league history with a total of 2,649. He needs five more hits to
tie Ted Williams for 64th. ... The Astros are one of only three
clubs to not allow a stolen base this season. ... Biggio's youngest
son, Cavan, threw out the first pitch. Cavan turns 10 on Monday.