HOUSTON – Astros catcher Brad Ausmus agreed Tuesday to a $7.5 million, two-year contract that will keep him with the NL champions.

The 36-year-old batted .258 with three homers and 47 RBIs in 134 games for Houston during the regular season and hit a tying two-out, ninth-inning homer in Game 4 of the first-round series against Atlanta, a game the Astros won in a postseason-record 18 innings to move on to the NL championship series.

He became a free agent after the Astros were swept by the Chicago White Sox in the World Series and was offered salary arbitration by Houston last week, extending the Astros’ negotiating period through Jan. 8.

Ausmus has played seven seasons for Houston, after spending 1997-98 with the club and returning in 2001. He won the Gold Gloves in 2001 and 2002 – the only ones won by Astros players.

A 13-year veteran, Ausmus has also played with San Diego and Detroit. He has 71 career homers and 508 RBIs.

AP-ES-12-13-05 1615EST

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