Astros draw even with idle Cubs

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Roy Oswalt returned to the mound and helped the
Houston Astros return to first place.

Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman had three RBI apiece to back
Oswalt as Houston beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4 Monday night.

The victory, Houston's fourth in five games, put the Astros in a
first-place tie in the NL Central with the idle Chicago Cubs.

"I felt good out there," Oswalt said. "I haven't been out
there in 40 days so I wanted to do well. I thought I threw a few
good pitches out there. I feel good right now in terms of my arm
and leg.

"Overall, it was a good outing."

Oswalt (7-5), sidelined since July 30 with a strained right
groin, was activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday. The
right-hander allowed four earned runs on five hits in five innings
to win for the first time since July 18.

"He threw a few more pitches than I anticipated to get five
(innings), but his stuff was still good at that point and I wanted
to give him a chance to win the game," Houston manager Jimy
Williams said. "He wasn't holding back on anything because his
velocity showed that. For as long as he's been out, his command and
control around the plate weren't that bad."

Berkman gave Houston a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with a
three-run double on a 3-2 pitch from Wayne Franklin (10-12).

Franklin, who leads the majors in home runs allowed, served up a
two-run shot to Bagwell in the fourth to make it a 5-0 lead.

"I was hitting the inside corner pretty well, but when that's
the only pitch you're throwing consistently, they're going to start
sitting on it, and that's what they did," Franklin said.

Wes Helms cut the deficit to 5-3 with a three-run shot with two
outs in the fourth, but Houston pulled away with single runs in the
fifth and sixth innings.

Richard Hidalgo hit a solo homer, his 23rd of the season, to
give Houston a 6-3 lead in the fifth.

After Bill Hall hit a run-scoring single in the fifth, Bagwell
got the run back with an RBI double in the sixth.

Milwaukee lost its fourth game in a row and its fifth of seven.

"Going into these games, we know we can only give up three,
four, five runs max if we want a chance to win," Milwaukee manager
Ned Yost said.

Game notes
With the return of Oswalt, RHP Jared Fernandez was moved to
the bullpen. Houston now has 15 pitchers on its roster. ...
Franklin has allowed a homer in seven of his last eight starts. ...
Oswalt is 20-9 in 43 career outings on the road. ... The first 10
runs of the game were scored with two outs. ... After three
straight sellouts against the Chicago Cubs, attendance at Miller
Park Monday was 10,202. ... Milwaukee is 25-25 since the All-Star
break. ... The Astros are 5-2 on their 10-game road trip and are
5-5 against Milwaukee this season.