Astros Beat Wagner and the Phillies Again

It's official, neither Billy Wagner nor the Phillies can beat the Houston Astros. Craig Biggio's homerun off Wagner gave the Astros a sweep of their season series with the Phillies and 12 straight wins over the Phils. The loss dropped the Phillies 2 1/2 games behind Houston in the NL Wild Card Standings.

Craig Biggio hit a three-run homerun off former teammate Billy Wagner with two outs in the ninth inning, to give the Houston Astros an 8-6 win over the Phillies.

The Phillies came into their portion of the eighth inning trailing the Astros, but Bobby Abreu launched a two-run homerun to tie the game and pinch-hitter Shane Victorino gave the Phillies a short-lived lead with an RBI single. The hit was Victorino's first major league hit in more than two years.

Wagner (4-3) retired the first two batters in the ninth before Jose Vizcaino reached on third baseman David Bell's fielding error. Willy Taveras beat out an infield single to shortstop, and Biggio followed with a drive into the left-field seats for his 20th homer.

"I tried to get it up, but that's his zone,'' Wagner said. ''You have to make sure it's up enough."

Chad Qualls (5-4) got the final two outs in the eighth to record the win and Brad Lidge finished out the game for his 35th save.

Mike Lamb hit a three-run homerun and Lance Berkman added a solo shot for Houston.

The Phillies rallied in the eighth against Dan Wheeler. Pinch-hitter Jason Michaels walked and one out later, Abreu followed with his blast into the Phillies' bullpen to tie the game 5-5. Pat Burrell followed with a walk, and Ryan Howard doubled to put runners on second and third. Endy Chavez ran for Burrell, and Bell was ntentionally walked to load the bases.

The Astros then went to the bullpen and brought in Qualls, who got pinch-hitter Michael Tucker on a grounder to first base that forced Chavez at the plate. But Victorino lined the next pitch to right to score Howard. Bell was thrown out at the plate by right fielder Jason Lane.

Howard gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the second when he lined a pitch into the right center field seats for his 15th homerun of the season. Howard leads National League rookies with 15 homeruns, even though he spent most of the season at AAA.

Vicente Padilla started for the Phillies and lasted just 5 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Padilla had been the Phillies most consistent starter after he overcame a slow start to the season. Padilla was 5-4 with a 2.60 ERA in his previous 11 starts.

"This is a hard loss," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "We had it and we gave it away. We have to get our act together and start winning games."

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