Astros 8, Diamondbacks 5

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PHOENIX – Lance Berkman had three hits and three RBIs and Morgan Ensberg hit a three-run homer to power Houston to an 8-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks .

Ensberg’s second homer in as many games came off reliever Jason Grimsley and capped the Astros’ seven-run sixth inning. Houston scored 18 in taking the last two of a three-game set in Arizona.

Luis Gonzalez was 1-for-20 in the homestand – a span of six games – before hitting a home run just over the right-field fence leading off the fourth to put Arizona up 2-1.

Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was on the brink of escaping in the sixth when, with runners at second and third and no outs, he struck out Brad Ausmus and Adam Everett on three pitches each. But after pinch-hitter Mike Lamb was walked intentionally, Willy Taveras singled in a pair to put Houston ahead 3-2.

Hernandez hit Orlando Palmeiro to load the bases, and El Duque’s day was over. Grimsley came on to give up a two-run single to Berkman, followed by Ensberg’s three-run shot to left.

Hernandez (1-2) allowed six runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out eight, walked four – one intentionally – and hit two batters.

Russ Springer (1-0) got the victory after pitching to one batter, retiring Conor Jackson on a flyout with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth. Brad Lidge got three outs for his third save in three opportunities.

Arizona’s Jeff DaVanon singled twice, walked twice and drove in two runs.

In the third, Hernandez struck out the first two hitters, but Palmeiro reached on a bunt single, then scored from first when Berkman doubled down the right-field line. Hernandez hit Ensberg on the left wrist, but Jason Lane bounced into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Arizona tied it at 1 in its half of the third. Johnny Estrada led off with a single, then took second on Hernandez’s sacrifice bunt. Craig Counsell struck out, but DaVanon singled to center to bring home Estrada.

Hernandez got the third hit of his major league career when he singled leading off the fifth. The Diamondbacks went on to load the bases before Springer came on to retire Jackson.

Houston’s Fernando Nieve made his first major league start. He went four-plus innings, allowing two runs and four hits. He struck out four and walked two.

Notes: Taveras has two errors in the past two games. … The Diamondbacks are 2-4 on their first homestand of the season with San Francisco coming to town for four games beginning Monday night. … Craig Biggio was hit by a pitch, extending his major league record in that category to 275. … Ausmus walked three times.

AP-ES-04-16-06 2004EDT

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