Astros have won 16 of last 20

HOUSTON (AP) -- Brad Ausmus said his key hit Sunday made the Houston Astros' recent surge that much sweeter.

Ausmus snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single as the Astros rallied from four runs down to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers
6-5 and sweep the three-game series. It was Houston's first three-game sweep over Los Angeles since May 14-16, 1993.

Morgan Ensberg singled to lead off the Astros' eighth and Jason Lane walked. Two outs later, Ausmus slapped a single to right field to give the Astros their seventh win in eight games. They've won 16 of 20 to reach the All-Star break at 44-43, which is reminiscent of their 36-10 finish to win the wild-card spot last season.

"It was a great feeling to get the game-winning hit," said Ausmus, who went 11-for-30 (.367) the last eight games to raise his average to .241. "It would be in any game, but it was especially great because of the way we've been playing lately.

"To be over .500 right now, to me that's just as remarkable as the run we had last year. It just shows you how resilient this team is," he said.

Astros manager Phil Garner agreed, recalling that the team was 15 games under .500 on May 24.

"This is a good way to go into the break," Garner said. "It makes you feel good about yourself. And today's win was really big for the way we came back. We have gotten close on a couple of big comebacks before but not quite made it. Wins like this really help your confidence."

This one ended when Oscar Robles was thrown out by center fielder Willy Taveras as Robles tried to stretch a single into a double.

"It took two nice plays to make that out," Garner said. "Willy got a good throw and Craig [Biggio] made a terrific tag. He threw his head down and I thought he was going to get spiked in the head. But Craig doesn't care."

Biggio wasn't surprised Robles tried to stretch the hit, even though it resulted in the final out of the game.

"Not at all," Biggio said. "In the same situation, I would have tried that. It had to be a perfect execution on our part and Willy made a strong throw to start it."

Dodgers manager Jim Tracy was dismayed, however.

"I understand the intent of Oscar," Tracy said. "With [Brad] Lidge on the mound, you have to figure you're not going to get back-to-back hits. So he was aggressive and it took a perfect throw to get him.

"It was unfortunate that the game had to end like that," he said.

That's the way things have gone lately for the Dodgers, who have dropped four straight and 11 of 16. That prompted a strong tirade from pitcher Odalis Perez.

The Dodgers' starter was removed Sunday after allowing the first four batters to reach in the sixth inning when Houston scored four times to tie it 5-5. He gave up five runs, four earned, five hits and four walks.

"When you see a team going in different directions, pitchers pointing fingers at position players and position players pointing fingers at pitchers, you know something is wrong," Perez said. "This team is doing that. The way to win games is to pull together
as a team, not to be pointing fingers at each other.

"We have no superstars on this team but we have some players who came from other teams who think they are superstars. We have to pull together and not say things about other players. If one of my teammates has something to say about me, then come say it to me. We don't need to have a meeting. I hate that," he said.

Russ Springer (2-3) pitched a hitless eighth, and Lidge worked the ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.

Duaner Sanchez (2-4) allowed two hits in the eighth inning and took the loss.

Houston starter Brandon Backe allowed five runs, three earned, eight hits and a walk in six innings.

Ensberg hit a two-run homer, his 24th of the year, to cut the Astros' deficit to 5-3. Ensberg is just one short of matching the club record for home runs in a season by a third baseman, a mark he shares with Doug Rader.

After Lane beat out an infield hit, Adam Everett tripled to deep left center to close the gap to 5-4 and chase Perez. Chris Burke followed with an RBI single off Franquelis Osoria to tie it.

Jason Phillips hit a two-run homer, his seventh of the year, in the fifth to give the Dodgers a 5-1 lead.

Game notes
A wild pitch charged to Chad Qualls that allowed a Dodgers run in the seventh inning Saturday was changed to a passed ball for Ausmus. The ruling lowered the season ERA of Roy Oswalt from 2.45 to 2.39. ... Houston reliever Dan Wheeler missed Sunday's game because of a death in the family. ... Taveras got his major league-leading 42nd infield hit in the seventh. ... In the first inning, Biggio swiped his ninth base of the season. It was the sixth time he stole third. ... Phillips has two home runs in four career at-bats against Backe. He hit a go-ahead solo shot on May 16, 2004,
to give the Mets a 3-2 win in Houston. ... Lidge's sister, Kitty, sang the national anthem Sunday.