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Biggio's two-run single keys three-run seventh

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Astros got a boost when Mark Prior
left the game after the sixth inning.

Craig Biggio hit a two-run single, and Jeff Bagwell had a
go-ahead sacrifice fly in a three-run seventh inning, rallying the
Houston Astros to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

"Maybe it was fortunate for us that they took him (Prior)
out,'' Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "We had some good
at-bats after that. He threw his breaking ball on 3-2 counts. He
threw his change-up when he was behind in the count.''

Prior, making his fifth major league start, pitched six strong
innings and left with a 4-2 lead.

Sammy Sosa hit a three-run homer, his league-leading 24th, off
Roy Oswalt in the third inning after Corey Patterson and Bill
Mueller singled, giving Chicago a 4-2 lead.

But in the seventh, the Astros loaded the bases off Juan Cruz
(1-8) on singles by Gregg Zaun, Orlando Merced and Jose Vizcaino
before Biggio tied the game.

After Lance Berkman got an infield hit off Jeff Fassero to load
the bases again, Bagwell hit a fly to deep left field for a
sacrifice fly scoring Vizcaino with the go-ahead run.

"He (Prior) was dominating at times out there and it was really
nice for us to get to their pen,'' Bagwell said. "Biggio had a
huge hit off a guy that made a mistake and tied the game for us."

Prior faired better this time against Houston than his start
June 1 against them when he allowed seven runs and seven hits in 3
2/3 innings.

Prior walked Jose Vizcaino to start the game and then allowed
Bagwell's 11th homer for a 2-1 Astros lead. Prior finished allowing
three hits, two earned runs and 10 strikeouts, giving him three
double-digit strikeout games in his brief major league career.

"It took me two or three innings to find my stuff,'' Prior
said. "They have some great hitters over there. Bagwell and Biggio
have been around a long time. I felt really comfortable, even after
that got that first inning home run.

"I felt like I could come back and do what it took to win the
game.''

Prior's pitch count finally forced him from the game.

"He threw a lot of pitches,'' Baylor said. "In the sixth, he
had 120 pitches. I wanted to milk seven innings out of him but his
pitch count was too high.''

Patterson doubled off Oswalt to start the game and scored on a
single by Fred McGriff.

Oswalt (7-4) pitched seven innings, allowed eight hits and four
earned runs. He struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.

"Early in the game I was trying to overthrow it a little,''
Oswalt said. "It seems like every game lately, I'm kind of erratic
in the first, second and third innings. But then I settled down and
I was able to focus on throwing the ball where I wanted to. I felt
good in the late innings.

Billy Wagner loaded the bases in the ninth inning before getting
his 11th save in 12 opportunities.

Game notes
RHP Shane Reynolds will miss his start Saturday against
Texas with weakness in his right leg, believed to be related to the
lower back ailment he had two years ago. RHP Tim Redding (3-3) will
start for the Astros. Reynolds experienced the weakness on the last
road trip. ... Former Astros OF Moises Alou has a seven-game
hitting streak (10-for-26, .385) for the Cubs. ... The Astros, who
have won the season series against Chicago nine straight seasons,
took this series 2-1 and lead the Cubs 5-4 this season with 10
games remaining.