CHICAGO - Brad Lidge saved a victory for Roger Clemens with an extended work day, and the surging Houston Astros scored three on a ground ball Saturday to beat the Cubs.
"Lidge is getting saves the old-fashioned way. We've had to bring him in in the eighth inning. He's having to do serious work to get them," Astros manager Phil Garner said after a 7-6 win.
Clemens allowed five runs and eight hits in a six-inning stint on a cool, windy day at Wrigley Field to get his 324th career win.
Staked to a 5-0 lead, Clemens tied Don Sutton and Nolan Ryan for 12th place on the career wins list with a big assist from Lidge and third baseman Mike Lamb.
"I've been around long enough to know that a lot of things don't come easy, and this was one of those games," Clemens said. "Once the guys jumped out there and got me a nice lead, you still have to fight and scratch to get through."
Lidge struck out two in the eighth to stop a Chicago rally and finished for his 18th save in 21 chances. With a man on first in the ninth, Michael Barrett hit a hard liner down the third-base line, and Lamb made a diving catch on the foul line to end the game.
"A great play by Lamb out there. He kind of speared the line drive," Lidge said. "I don't even know if it was fair or foul."
With its 10th win in 13 games, Houston pulled within five of Chicago, which holds a one-game lead over San Francisco and San Diego in the wild-card race.
The 42-year-old Clemens, meanwhile, moved up again on the career victories list.
"It's longevity," Clemens said. "I've been fortunate to be mentioned with a lot of great men that played before me and I have a lot of respect for. It's a privilege to join them."
BRAVES 9, GIANTS 3: Paul Byrd allowed one run in six innings and hit two run-scoring singles off Jason Schmidt, leading host Atlanta.
Rafael Furcal had four hits and four RBIs for the Braves, who have won six straight. They moved a season-high 22 games above .500 and improved to 15-1-3 in their past 19 series.
The two hits and two RBIs were career bests for Byrd, who entered 19-for-129 (.147) in his career.
Barry Bonds went 1-for-3 with an infield single a day after hitting his 694th homer. He was scheduled for a day off as he often skips day games that follow night games, but he told manager Felipe Alou after Friday's 5-3 loss that he wanted to play.
Schmidt left his start Aug. 17 against Montreal with a strained right groin, an injury that forced him to skip a turn in the rotation. He gave up six runs and a season-high 10 hits in 32/3 innings yet had good enough stuff to finish with eight strikeouts.
DODGERS 4, METS 2: Adrian Beltre went 5-for-5 with his major-league-leading 42nd home run, and visiting Los Angeles got two big pinch-hits.
Eric Gagne pitched a perfect ninth for his 36th save in 38 chances and first since Aug. 15 at Wrigley Field. His 143rd save since 2002 broke Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley's major-league record for a three-year span. Eckersley had 142 from 1990-92 with Oakland.
Beltre singled off Ricky Bottalico with one out in the eighth. Mike Stanton gave up Shawn Green's double, and pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz came through with a run-scoring infield single up the middle to tie it at 2.
Pinch-hitter Jose Hernandez followed with a single to center, giving the West-leading Dodgers a 3-2 lead.
PADRES 5, EXPOS 2: Jake Peavy won his sixth straight decision, and Phil Nevin homered and drove in three for visiting San Diego.
Peavy, unbeaten in nine starts since the All-Star break, held Montreal to five hits and two runs in 62/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs or fewer for the 18th time in 20 starts.
CARDINALS 6, PIRATES 4: Reggie Sanders hit a three-run homer and visiting St. Louis matched last season's total with its 85th win. Jim Edmonds hit his fifth homer in as many games for the Cardinals.
MARLINS 4, ROCKIES 3: Juan Encarnacion hit a two-run single in the first and a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth as host Florida extended Colorado's losing streak to six.
PHILLIES 4, BREWERS 3: Placido Polanco homered with one out in the ninth as host Philadelphia handed Milwaukee its 10th straight loss.
D'BACKS 6, REDS 3: Five pitchers combined on a four-hitter and Juan Brito singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh for visiting Arizona.