Series: Game 4 of 4

Series tied 2-2 (as of 9/28)

Game 1: Thursday, September 25
Game 2: Friday, September 26
Game 3: Saturday, September 27
Game 4: Sunday, September 28

Brewers 5

(68-94, 37-44 away)

Astros 8

(87-75, 48-33 home)

    2:05 PM ET, September 28, 2003

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    MIL 100001012 5 8 1
    HOU 10320020 - 8 10 1

    W: R. Stone (6-4)

    L: L. Martinez (0-3)

    Substitutes abound as Houston wins

    Associated Press

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Now the Astros start hitting.

    A day after Houston was eliminated from playoff contention, Jeff Bagwell homered twice and drove in four runs in a brief appearance as the Astros beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-5 Sunday.

    Houston spent much of the season in first place, but lost six of its last nine games and finished behind the Chicago Cubs.

    "We had a lot of players that had pretty darn good years," manager Jimy Williams said. "We just couldn't win here of late. I guess you could go back and put some other games under the microscope but I'm not going to do that. We had a bunch of guys who just left it between the lines."

    Bagwell hit a solo homer in the first inning off Luis Martinez (0-3) and he had a three-run homer in the third inning that put Houston ahead 4-1.

    It was Bagwell's fifth multihomer game of the season and the 31st of his career. Bagwell hit 39 homers this season.

    "I just look at it as another disappointing season because we didn't win," Bagwell said. "If we'd won 102 games and needed 103, it would be disappointing too. We're here to win and we didn't do that so it's disappointing."

    Bagwell left after the third as substitutes replaced starters throughout the game for both teams. Lance Berkman and Jason Lane each hit two-run homers for Houston.

    With his team no longer in the chase, Williams started Kirk Saarloos in place of Wade Miller. Milwaukee manager Ned Yost had Martinez pitch in place of Ben Sheets.

    "This is a big disappointment, but it wasn't from a lack of effort by the guys in this clubhouse," Craig Biggio said. "I know everybody puts the emphasis on the last week, but there are two halves. We played well at times."

    The Astros finished 87-75, winning three more games than they did last season.

    "I can't imagine myself being anywhere else but on a championship team," said Jeff Kent, who helped San Francisco come within a victory of last year's World Series title. "Right now, standing here, we know it's not going to be us. It's difficult handle."

    Milwaukee was 68-94, a 12-game improvement in its first year under Yost. Still, the Brewers have finished with a losing record in 11 consecutive seasons.

    "At about noon today, I thanked everybody for playing hard and giving it their best effort for 162 games," Yost said. "I told them how much I appreciated it, and how much I enjoyed being with them."

    Scott Podsednik led off the game with a double and scored on a groundout by Peter Zoccolillo. Podsednik hit his ninth homer in the sixth, and the rookie finished with a .314 average, 100 runs, 43 steals and 58 RBI.

    He is only the fourth rookie since 1900 to hit .300, score 100 runs and steal 40 bases, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Joe Jackson (1911) and Jimmy Barrett (1900).

    Podsednik is from West, which is near Waco.

    "I can't put into words, to be honest, to do it in front of my friends and family, that was really special," he said. "It's been a dream year, and to cap it in a dream way, I don't think I could have written it any better."

    Saarloos pitched three innings and struck out his final six batters.

    Ricky Stone (6-4), the fourth of six Astros pitchers, threw a perfect seventh inning for the victory.

    Eric Bruntlett and Morgan Ensberg each singled before Bagwell's homer.

    Richard Hidalgo singled in the fourth inning prior to Berkman's 25th homer. Lane hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

    "It's just not that easy to win it," Bagwell said. "Everybody wants to look at the Braves and 12 years in a row. Things don't just happen like that except for a select few. I look at it that OK this happened, what are we going to do to fix it and go out and win next year."

    Game notes

    Richie Sexson became the first player in Brewers' history to play in every inning of every game this season. He's the first player in the majors to gain that distinction since Travis Fryman played in every inning of the 144 games of the shortened 1995 season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press