Pettitte pitches Astros past Pirates

Houston survives ejections of manager, center fielder in 8-0 victory

? Here’s proof of how everything went the Houston Astros’ way in Pittsburgh: Even a perceived bad call turned into something very good.

Andy Pettitte pitched seven sharp innings to extend one of the best runs of his career, and the Astros beat up on the slumping Pirates yet again with an 8-0 victory Wednesday.

Lance Berkman gave Pettitte the lead even before the left-hander took the mound with his second homer in as many games. Mike Lamb hit a three-run homer in a four-run sixth inning that made it 5-0 against Josh Fogg (4-6), with all the scoring coming that inning after manager Phil Garner and center fielder Willy Taveras were ejected.

Taveras was called out at first by umpire Dan Iassogna on a grounder to shortstop, causing Taveras to throw his helmet in anger, and Garner also was tossed for arguing. The ejections were the Astros’ first this season.

“Unbelievable. I can’t understand it,” said Taveras, who rarely shows anger on the field. “It should have been a fine for him, to throw me out of the game. It’s 1-0 right there, and I got real excited. I shouldn’t do that but that’s emotions and it happens.”

Garner was upset that Taveras was ejected, since helmet-tossing usually results only in a fine if it’s not directed toward an umpire.

“He was safe, let’s face it,” Garner said. “He could have fined him rather than throwing him out of the game but he chose to do otherwise.”

The Astros had two outs and nobody on at the time, but Orlando Palmeiro promptly doubled ahead of Lance Berkman’s walk and Morgan Ensberg’s RBI single. Lamb then homered to right field on the first pitch he saw from Fogg, his third homer of the season.

Marlins 9, Diamondbacks 2

Phoenix – Juan Encarnacion had a homer and two doubles, driving in three runs, and Carlos Delgado also homered to power Florida past Arizona. Brian Moehler worked seven innings to extend his winning streak to four straight and help the Marlins to consecutive wins for the first time since July 7.

Cardinals 4, Brewers 2

St. Louis – Albert Pujols homered for the third straight game and backed Mark Mulder, leading St. Louis. John Rodriguez hit his first major-league homer for the Cardinals, who have won five of six games since the All-Star break. St. Louis improved to 7-2 against Milwaukee and 31-10 against the NL Central.

Rockies 3, Nationals 2

Washington – Washington’s Livan Hernandez followed up his modern major-league-record-tying fourth hit batsman by allowing a two-run homer to J.D. Closser, and Colorado beat the Nationals to win a road series for the first time this season. Washington lost for the seventh time in nine games and saw its NL East lead drop to a half-game over the Atlanta Braves.

Dodgers 10, Phillies 2

Philadelphia – Jeff Kent hit a three-run homer, Jayson Werth had a two-run shot during a nine-run fifth inning, and Derek Lowe pitched seven strong innings to lead Los Angeles over Philadelphia. Lowe (6-10) allowed six hits, struck out five and gave up two unearned runs.

Reds 9, Cubs 3

Cincinnati – Ken Griffey Jr. hit one of Cincinnati’s three solo home runs off Kerry Wood, who was forced from the game after only three innings because of a stiff shoulder, and the Reds homered four times in all against Chicago. Aaron Harang (6-8) pitched a seven-hitter for Cincinnati’s first complete game of the season, slowing a Cubs offense that has nine homers in the series’ first three games.

Mets 7, Padres 3

New York – Mike Piazza hit a two-run homer to move into a tie with Johnny Bench on the career home run list, and Carlos Beltran also connected in New York’s victory. Tom Glavine (7-7) won his third consecutive decision with six solid innings as the Mets won their second straight over the NL West leaders and moved two games over .500 (48-46) for the first time since June 11, when they were 32-30.

Braves 4, Giants 1

San Francisco – John Smoltz pitched eight innings for his seventh straight win, and rookie Jeff Francoeur went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer in Atlanta’s victory over San Francisco.