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Lamb strokes game-ending home run

HOUSTON (AP) -- Mike Lamb made Roy Oswalt's premonition come
true.

Oswalt knew he was done after nine innings against the
Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night. The right-hander was headed
to the clubhouse with the game tied.

"I actually had a funny feeling as I was walking back," Oswalt
said. "I thought, wouldn't it be great if we had a walk-off homer.
Then I looked up on the TV screen when I got to the clubhouse, and
Mike had done it."

Lamb hit his sixth homer of the season leading off the bottom of
the ninth to give the Houston Astros a 2-1 victory and move Oswalt
into a tie with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter for the National League
lead for wins.

Oswalt (14-8), who improved to 10-1 at home, leads the majors in
wins since the 2004 All-Star break with 26.

Oswalt, who has taken the decision in every start this season,
won for the eighth time in his last nine games and dropped his ERA
to 2.33, third in the NL. He allowed eight hits and struck out
nine, walking four.

"It was Roy's best game of the year," Astros manager Phil
Garner said. "He was going to his fastballs up in the zone and his
sliders down."

Garner went out to check on Oswalt with two outs in the top of
the ninth after Ryan Howard had singled to put runners on first and
second.

"I just wanted to see how he felt," Garner said. "If he says
he's OK, I'm going to let him go get 'em, and he did."

Oswalt didn't want to come out then.

"I felt strong," he said. "That's one reason I wanted to stay
in. He asked me if I felt strong and I said 'Yes.' I had gotten
[David Bell] out all night, and I wanted to face him."

Bell, who finished 0-for-4, hit a fly ball to deep right center
field to end the inning.

That set up Lamb's big hit off reliever Ryan Madson (4-4), who
took the loss on only his second pitch.

"[Madson] throws 93 or 94 miles an hour," Lamb said. "I've
got to sit on the fastball and try to adjust to the off-speed
pitches. You can't go the other way on him. He threw me the
fastball."

Madson had no excuses.

"I was just trying to throw a strike," he said. "I didn't
want to walk him. It was supposed to be outside, but it came back
over the plate."

The Phillies thought starter Jon Lieber, who went seven innings
and allowed one run and six hits with no walks and four strikeouts,
pitched as well as Oswalt.

"It's a shame the game had to end this way," said bench coach
Gary Varsho, filling in for manager Charlie Manuel, who missed the
game due to a death in the family. "It was a very well-pitched
game, but the little things mean so much in a close game. We had
opportunities to score. We just didn't execute. We have got to find
ways to score runs on the road.

"Oswalt did a great job of staying ahead just like our guy. It
seemed like every first pitch was a called strike."

The Phillies praised Oswalt.

"I think he definitely deserved to win the game," Phillies
catcher Todd Pratt said. "Both teams played hard, and he went the
full nine.

"It's the first time I've faced him, and to understate the
obvious, he's very good. It's amazing for a guy who's really not
that big size-wise. But he is so strong."

Lieber is 1-5 with three no-decisions in his last nine starts.

"It's been a frustrating 2½ months for me personally," he
said. "But I've been getting much better by keeping the ball down
for the most part. My hanging slider to [Craig] Biggio obviously
was a mistake.

"These last two starts, guys on the other team have really
pitched better, and I have to tip my hat to them."

Houston has won nine of 10 and 21 of 28. Philadelphia has lost
eight of 11 road games.

Ugueth Urbina pitched a scoreless eighth inning, running the
Phillies' bullpen streak of shutout innings to 14.

Biggio started the scoring with his 16th home run in the first
inning. It was his third in two games and the 250th of his career.

The Phillies tied it in the sixth after Jimmy Rollins led off
with a double and went to third on Kenny Lofton's single. Rollins
scored when Chase Utley hit into a double play.

Game notes
The Astros' 32-14 record at home is the best in the major
leagues. ... In the third inning, Willy Taveras got his major
league-leading 50th infield single on a hit that Lieber knocked
down, then couldn't find as it dribbled behind him. Taveras tied
the club record set by Biggio in 1992. ... Manuel missed his second
game due to the death of his sister, Janet, in Virginia. He is
expected back for Wednesday's game. ... Phillies have the best
fielding percentage in the majors (.987) and the fewest errors
(50).