Astros finally pull away from Padres in 11th

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Jeff Bagwell stepped up at an important time
for the Houston Astros.

Bagwell's RBI single snapped a scoreless tie in the 11th as
Houston broke out with five runs in the inning for a 5-0 victory
over the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Brian Hunter added a bases-loaded triple to cap the inning as
the Astros pulled within 4½ games of first-place St. Louis in the
NL Central. The Cardinals were idle on Thursday.

"We had to win today,'' Bagwell said. "With so few games left,
every game just gets that much more important.''

Wade Miller kept the Astros in the game with seven shutout
innings. But he was matched by Jake Peavy, who held Houston
scoreless through seven innings.

"That was a very intense game,'' Hunter said. "Whenever you
can win a game when runs are tough to come by, it's a big win. For
us, it's even more important because we have still some work to

The Astros have 22 games remaining, while St. Louis has 23 games

"Certainly when you're in the position we are in, you just need
to win games,'' Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "We got
everything we needed today with a great pitched game and clutch

Tom Gordon, Billy Wagner (4-2) and Octavio Dotel combined with
Miller on a seven-hitter for the Astros' 10th shutout. The three
relievers allowed just one hit over the final four innings as
Wagner pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win.

The Padres were shut out for the 14th time this season, tops in
the NL.

Jose Vizcaino led off the 11th with a single off Jonathan
Johnson (1-1). Craig Biggio attempted a sacrifice bunt down the
first-base line, but Johnson threw high to first base for an error.

Mike Holtz then allowed a single to Lance Berkman to load the
bases and was replaced by Doug Nickle.

Bagwell grounded a single to left field to score Vizcaino and
give Houston a 1-0 lead. Mark Loretta added a sacrifice fly and
Hunter's triple put the game out of reach.

"To shut them out for 11 innings and not come through with a
win is tough,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said.

The Astros had the go-ahead run thrown out at home in the ninth
inning when Biggio tried to score from second base on Bagwell's

But Cesar Crespo's one-hop throw from left field caught Biggio,
who was blocked at home by catcher Wiki Gonzalez.

Miller constantly pitched out of trouble, stranding 10 runners.
Miller, who has won a career-high nine straight decisions, allowed
six hits. He struck out seven and walked five -- two intentional.

''(Miller) threw well and used his defense,'' San Diego's Phil
Nevin said. "But any time you have that many guys on base and
don't score any, it is going to be frustrating.''

Peavy gave up four hits with a career-high nine strikeouts,
including getting Berkman three times.

Miller pitched out of a one-out bases-loaded jam in the sixth
when he retired Kory DeHaan on a forceout at home and Gonzalez on a

The Padres threatened in the first after a leadoff single by
Ramon Vazquez and a one-out walk to Ryan Klesko. But Miller escaped
when he got Nevin to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Game notes
Miller's last loss was a 9-1 decision against Arizona on
June 26. Miller is 12-1 in 19 starts since coming off the disabled
list on May 29. ... Klesko went 0-for-3 with two walks as his
13-game hitting streak ended. ... Houston took the season series