Milwaukee at Houston

W: B. Backe (9-8) L: W. Obermueller (1-4)
HR: MIL - None   HOU - C. Biggio (22)

Biggio's NL-record 43rd leadoff blast propels Astros

CBS wire reports

HOUSTON -- Craig Biggio never tries to hit home runs, so his National League record for leadoff homers is a little strange to him.

Biggio gave Houston a quick lead with his 43rd leadoff homer and Brandon Backe had his best outing since returning from the disabled list, leading the Astros to a 7-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.

Biggio, leading off for only the 10th time this season, connected off Wes Obermueller (1-4). Biggio also hit a leadoff homer May 12 against San Francisco and has 22 home runs overall this season.

"Home runs just come from accidents by me," Biggio said. "I just try to hit it solid and sometimes they go out. The record is nice to have but I'm not trying to hit them.

"But it was good to help us get off to a fast start. It's always nice when you get any pitcher a run in the first. And Brandon pitched real well tonight."

Backe (9-8) made his third start since returning Sept. 7 and got his first victory since July 18 at Pittsburgh. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out five.

"Brandon did a good job," manager Phil Garner said. "I'm sure it's a big confidence booster for him since he pitched well but wasn't able to get a win the first two times back."

Backe hadn't lasted more than five innings in his first two starts after coming back from a ribcage injury that kept him sidelined six weeks.

"I felt the same tonight as I did the first two times back," Backe said. "I just didn't get any breaks those other times. This time I didn't get behind in the count and I kept the ball in the park."

Mike Gallo finished the seventh after Backe hit consecutive batters. Russ Springer pitched the eighth, and Ezequiel Astacio worked the ninth to preserve the shutout.

The Astros won their fourth straight to stay a half-game ahead of Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race. The Phillies routed Florida 10-2.

Obermueller lasted only four innings. He allowed five runs, eight hits and two walks. Obermueller fell to 1-3 on the road this season and hasn't won an away game since May 17 at Washington.

"He never got settled in," manager Ned Yost said. "He never found a groove, never got anything going. He was fighting all night long."

Obermueller agreed with Yost's assessment.

"I was a little bit jumpy at first," he said. "I fought through all four innings. I was forcing the ball to the plate.

"I think I was too amped up because we were going against a good team and I wanted to do well. I went out and tried to force the issue, rather than waiting for my pitches to work."

Jose Vizcaino added an RBI single in the first, and Orlando Palmeiro singled in another run in the second to make it 3-0. Vizcaino's second RBI single and Brad Ausmus' sacrifice fly made it 5-0 in the third inning.

With Biggio on third and Lance Berkman on first in the sixth, reliever Justin Lehr appeared to pick off Berkman. But third base umpire Mike Reilly called a balk on Lehr, scoring Biggio and sending Berkman to second.

Jason Lane followed with a run-scoring double to give Houston a 7-0 lead.


  • Houston's Morgan Ensberg made his first appearance since injuring his wrist Sept. 5, when he was hit by a pitch from Philadelphia's Brett Myers. Ensberg pinch hit in the seventh inning and beat out an infield single.
  • The crowd cheered loudly when manager Phil Garner and wife Carol rode onto the field on motorcycles in the pregame. The ceremony was to highlight the Garners' charity motorcycle ride earlier in the day that raised $20,000 for Mothers Against Cancer.
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Brandon Backe allows six hits over 6 2/3 innings in earning his first victory since July 18.  (AP)
Brandon Backe allows six hits over 6 2/3 innings in earning his first victory since July 18. (AP)

Players of the Game

B. Backe
IP 6.2
H 6
ER 0
BB 1
K 5

J. Lane
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 0

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Milwaukee Brewers
Brady Clark, CF4010000 .304
Rickie Weeks, 2B3000022 .238
Lyle Overbay, 1B3000114 .273
Carlos Lee, LF4010001 .274
Geoff Jenkins, RF4010012 .288
    Jorge De La Rosa, P0000000 .000
Bill Hall, SS4010013 .281
Russell Branyan, 3B4010002 .253
Damian Miller, C4020002 .261
Wes Obermueller, P1000000 .200
   a- Chris Magruder, PH1000001 .194
    Justin Lehr, P0000000 .000
   b- Wes Helms, PH1000001 .300
    Jose Capellan, P0000000 .000
    Nelson Cruz, RF1000000 .000
a-flied out for Obermueller in the 5th
b-flied out for Lehr in the 7th
2B - Carlos Lee (39, Backe)
Team LOB - 10
Outfield Assists - Carlos Lee 1
E - Bill Hall (15, Wild throw), Rickie Weeks (17, Misplayed grounder)
Milwaukee Brewers
Wes Obermueller (L,1-4) 4854221 4.92
Justin Lehr 2122320 3.72
Jose Capellan 1100010 4.09
Jorge De La Rosa 1000110 4.35
IBB - Berkman by Justin Lehr
WP - Wes Obermueller (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Wes Obermueller 90-54, Justin Lehr 34-20, Jose Capellan 13-9, Jorge De La Rosa 15-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wes Obermueller 7-4, Justin Lehr 3-1
Batters Faced - Wes Obermueller 23, Justin Lehr 10, Jose Capellan 4, Jorge De La Rosa 4
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4211124 .266
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Charles Gipson, CF0000000 .286
Orlando Palmeiro, RF3011100 .286
    Ezequiel Astacio, P0000000 .167
Mike Lamb, 3B5100003 .229
Lance Berkman, 1B2110311 .293
Jason Lane, CF-RF5121013 .258
Jose Vizcaino, SS4122011 .257
Luke Scott, LF3010102 .158
Brad Ausmus, C3111011 .263
Brandon Backe, P2000001 .250
    Mike Gallo, P0000000 .000
   a- Morgan Ensberg, PH1010000 .279
    Eric Bruntlett, 2B0000000 .213
a-singled for Gallo in the 7th
2B - Jason Lane 2 (32, Obermueller, Lehr), Brad Ausmus (17, Obermueller)
HR - Craig Biggio (22, Obermueller)
SF - Brad Ausmus (1)
SH - Orlando Palmeiro (5), Brandon Backe (5)
RBI - Craig Biggio (62), Orlando Palmeiro (19), Jason Lane (71), Jose Vizcaino 2 (19), Brad Ausmus (43)
2-OUT RBI - Orlando Palmeiro (5), Jason Lane (23), Jose Vizcaino (8)
Team LOB - 10
E - Luke Scott (1, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Brandon Backe (W,9-8) 6.2600150 4.76
Mike Gallo 0.1000000 2.60
Russ Springer 1100000 4.77
Ezequiel Astacio 1000000 5.67
HBP - Clark (by Brandon Backe), Weeks (by Brandon Backe)
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Backe 98-62, Mike Gallo 2-1, Russ Springer 19-13, Ezequiel Astacio 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Backe 4-11, Mike Gallo 1-0, Ezequiel Astacio 2-1
Batters Faced - Brandon Backe 29, Mike Gallo 1, Russ Springer 4, Ezequiel Astacio 3
Game Information
Attendance - 37756
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Andy Fletcher, First Base - Jeff Kellogg, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Mike Reilly