Biggio's Dramatics Sink Dodgers

Houston's Craig Biggio, in addition to being a Hall of Fame candidates, could find a second career in the movie industry with his flair for dramatics. Approaching hit No. 3,000 he went 5-for-5 to top the coveted total, then after announcing his retirement from the game in the afternoon, he slugged a base-loaded home run to break a 3-3 tie and give the Astros a 7-4 win over the Dodgers.

Starter Mark Hendrickson, after wild-pitching a run across in the first inning, held Houston in check through five innings and was setting on a 3-1 lead when Lance Berkman singled and Carlos Lee doubled him right out of the game.

Rudy Seanez, who hadn't seen action since July 22, was warmed up and ready to take over in the seventh. He came in a bit earlier than he had planned and quickly served up a two-run double to Morgan Ensberg to tie the game. A couple walks brought up Biggio with two out and a tie game.

He nailed the first pitch and his drive to left field landed well into the left-field seats above the scoreboard and, as it turned out, the game was over at that moment, save for a two-minute ovation and a curtain call.

Over six innings, the Dodgers collected only three hits, all of them coming in the second inning. Leading off, Jeff Kent pounced on a 3-0 pitch and lined over the left field wall, his 14th of the season. Luis Gonzalez singled to right, Nomar Garciaparra walked and James Loney smacked a double off the scoreboard in left to make it 2-1. Ethier's ground ball gave L.A. their 3-1 lead.

Later, now trailing 6-3, Russell Martin, who had only one hit in his last 18 times at bat, doubled to score Juan Pierre who had walked in the eighth.

The Dodgers had one more gasp in their bat bag. In the ninth, Loney beat out an infield hit with one out and Ethier walked. Representing the tying run, Wilson Betemit struck out on a slider in the dirt and Rafael Furcal bounced weakly to first.

Hendrickson allowed three earned runs in his five-plus innings, allowing six hits and striking out three.

Newly arrived Eric Hull made his major league debut, retiring the Astros 1-2-3 in the seventh and working around a leadoff walks in the eighth without allowing a run.

On his first pitch to Carlos Lee, his curve ball arched well over the batters head and banged off the backstop, drawing a smile even from and embarrassed Hull.

Loney was the only Dodger with a pair of hits, but of the six hits, four were for extra bases.

San Diego beat Colorado 5-3 to cut the Dodgers lead to one game. Derek Lowe (8-9, 3.51 ERA) opposes Matt Albers (2-4, 5.76) in tonight's series finale.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	030 000 010-4
Houston	        100 006 00x-7

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  0  0  .283
Pierre cf	3  1  0  0  .284
Martin c	4  0  1  1  .300
Kent 2b	        4  1  1  1  .292
Gonzalez lf	4  1  1  0  .292
Garciaparra 3b	3  1  0  0  .280
Loney 1b	4  0  2  1  .362
Ethier rf	3  0  1  1  .298
Hendrickson p	2  0  0  0  .000
 Seanez p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz ph	1  0  0  0  .203
 Hull p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Betemit ph	1  0  0  0  .240	  
   Totals	33 4 6 4
   Houston

 2B- Martin (23), Loney (8), Ethier (17). HR- Kent (14).
RBI- Kent (54), Loney (23), Ethier (43), Martin (66).
SB- Gonzalez (6). LOB- Los Angeles 6, Houston 5.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Hendrickson	5.0  6  3-3  1  3  4.58
Seanez (6-2)	1.0  2  4-4  2  0  4.21
Hull	        2.0  0  0-0  1  1  0.00
 WP- Hendrickson. T- 2:46. Att- 38.247.
Saito Throwing Painlessly-- Takashi Saito played catch before the game and reported no recurrence of the shoulder blade irritation that had sidelined him. He said he would try to throw off a mound for the first time today but offered no guess as to when he would be ready to pitch in a game.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Chad Billingsley became the first Dodger to start the season 7-0 since Matt Herges in 2000 (8-0). In the last 25 years, just five Dodgers pitchers have accomplished this feat -- Herges, Antonio Osuna (1998), Burt Hooton (1981), Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Billingsley. The right-hander also equaled Brad Penny for the Dodgers' longest winning streak this season and has now won nine straight decisions dating back to Sept. 21, 2006. ...Kent now has 334 homers as a second baseman, best in the majors. Ryne Sandberg is second at 277. ... Kent has reached base safely in 35 straight games, best in the majors this season. Loney ran his string of reaching base safely to 29 games with his second-inning double. Jeff Kent's two doubles in the first game of the series tied him with Hall of Famer Ted Williams for 32nd on the all-time doubles list with 525, one behind Dave Parker. Kent is fourth among all active players, trailing Craig Biggio (661), Barry Bonds (597) and teammate Luis Gonzalez (566). Kent and Biggio also rank first and fifth, respectively in home runs hit as a second baseman. The Dodger second baseman has hit 333 and Houston's 3,000-hit man has clouted 222. ...Ethier went 1-for-3 last night and is batting .400 in July (20-for-50), the fourth-highest average in the National League behind Jeff Kent, St. Louis' Chris Duncan (.413) and Florida's Hanley Ramirez (.412). (minimum 40 AB). ...The game was the 101st for the Dodgers and they are 56-45.

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