MIAMI -- In a season of big streaks, the Florida Marlins are suddenly back in the hunt in the NL East.
"It was nice to come out and not be flat," Marlins catcher John Baker said, referring to the Marlins' first game since a three-game sweep at Philadelphia.
Florida moved within 3½ games of idle Philadelphia for the NL East lead.
VandenHurk (2-1) struck out four and allowed two runs and five hits.
"It wasn't feeling like a good outing early on, but we scored some runs and it allowed me to keep attacking," VandenHurk said.
Darin Erstad had a home run and three RBIs for Houston.
Florida lost three straight last week to the last-place Washington Nationals and appeared on the verge of a complete collapse. The Marlins then went into Philadelphia for the sweep that recharged their postseason hopes.
Flopping after many big wins this season, Florida avoided any kind of a letdown.
"It was really big," Baker said of the fast start. It prevented us from having any kind of a letdown coming off a big sweep of Philadelphia."
After Hunter Pence singled in the second, Erstad hit a towering home run to right to cut the deficit in half.
Chris Coghlan hit an RBI single in the sixth after Baker scored on a balk by Chris Sampson. Later in the inning, Astros manager Cecil Cooper decided to intentionally walk Nick Johnson with two outs and a runner on second to have Sampson face Ramirez, who ripped a single to left that put Florida ahead 7-2.
"We're not built to fight back like that," Cooper said. "We did give it a pretty good go. We got to two runs down, but we've got to shut it down once we do get back in the game there. We got back in the game 4-2, but we just couldn't close the door and shut them off."
"We got close then turned around and went in a different way," Lee said. "We need to score some runs and give the pitcher something to work with. The pitchers feel like they can't make a mistake because we're not scoring runs."
Cooper said before the game that even though RHP Roy Oswalt (sore back) appears healthy and ready to make his first start in about two weeks on Tuesday, he won't know for sure until the right-hander throws in a live game. "I've got my fingers crossed," Cooper said. ... Marlins RHP Anibal Sanchez (sprained shoulder) will throw about 90 pitches Wednesday in a rehab start with Double-A Jacksonville, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter in September 2006 for Florida, was placed on the 60-day DL on July 12.