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Orioles snap Astros' five-game winning streak

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Hayden Penn got the baseball from his first
major league win, courtesy of teammate Sidney Ponson.

The ball that Larry Bigbie hit for his first home run of the
season was held ransom by the Baltimore bullpen, which wanted to
poke some fun at the veteran before finally handing it over.

Bigbie and Jay Gibbons homered in a six-run second inning, and
the Orioles ended the Houston Astros' five-game winning streak with
an 8-5 victory Monday night.

Playing in his first game since going on the disabled list May
28 with a strained left hamstring, Bigbie homered on the first
pitch he saw from Brandon Backe. The outfielder hit 15 home runs
last season, but needed 113 at-bats and a stint on the DL before
finally going deep for the initial time in 2005.

"It's just good to get the goose-egg off the board," Bigbie
said. "You keep seeing it up there and the guys kind of razz you
about it."

Then, motioning toward the corner of the clubhouse where several
members of the bullpen had assembled, he added, "They kept the
home run ball, just to be funny."

Bigbie parlayed the opposite-field shot into his first three-hit
game of the season. It was a sharp contrast to his play in April
and May, when he hit .241 with little power.

"Hopefully I get things rolling and throw aside those first 100
at-bats," he said.

Making his fourth start since being summoned from Double-A
Bowie, Penn (1-0) earned his first win in the majors despite
allowing five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"The numbers weren't the best, but I kept us in the game," the
right-hander said.

B.J. Ryan, the fourth Baltimore pitcher, worked the ninth for
his 17th save.

Sammy Sosa drove in two runs and Melvin Mora doubled in a run
and walked three times for the first-place Orioles, who had lost
four of five to end a 13-game road trip during which they went 6-7.

"It's good to be home, playing in front of your own fans,"
manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg both hit two-run homers, and Mike
Lamb had three hits for the Astros, now 7-24 on the road.

"It was a clunker, yeah," Houston manager Phil Garner said.
"We've been living and dying by the long ball. I'm getting greedy
here, but I'd like to see us get our hits in bunches with guys on
base."

After Lane gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the second inning,
Baltimore got seven hits -- five for extra bases -- off Backe (4-6)
in the bottom half.

Rafael Palmeiro led off with a double and scored on Gibbons'
10th homer. Bigbie hit Backe's next pitch into the left-field
seats, Mora added an RBI double and Sosa capped the uprising with a
two-run double.

"The fastball to Gibbons, I put it across the plate and he
smoked it," Backe said. "He hit a pitch that wasn't supposed to
be where it was. He got it and took advantage of it."

The pitch to Bigbie was better, but the result was the same.

"It was a pretty good pitch, to tell you the truth," Backe
said. "He'd been on the DL and off the field for a while, so you
wouldn't think the first pitch on the outer third just above the
knees would have gone out of the yard from that guy."

In the third, Bigbie singled, stole second and scored on a
double by David Newhan for a 7-2 lead.

That was enough offense for Penn, who gave up a total of six
earned runs in his first three starts but didn't have a win to show
for it.

"I've seen him progress every start," Mazzilli said.

Backe had won his last three decisions, but was no match for a
team that entered with a major league-best .284 batting average.
The right-hander allowed seven runs, 10 hits and two walks in 3 2/3
innings.

"He had one bad inning," Garner said. "We never recovered
from it."

Ensberg hit his 15th home run, the fifth in nine games, and Adam
Everett doubled in a run to make it 7-5 in the sixth. Bigbie hit an
RBI single in the bottom half.

Game notes
Every Baltimore starter except Sal Fasano got at least one
hit. ... Houston rookie Willy Taveras stretched his hitting streak
to 10 games. ... Baltimore's Brian Roberts has a hit in 37 of his
last 39 games and 51 of 56 overall.