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Rain can't cool off hot Astros, Oswalt

By TIMES WIRES
Published September 29, 2006


ASTROS 3, PIRATES 0

PITTSBURGH - They needed nearly five hours to win the night before. This time, they waited for 3½ hours just to play. Time may be running out on the Astros, but it's not stopping them from winning.

Roy Oswalt picked up a weary bullpen with seven shutout innings and the Astros ran their improbable late-September winning streak to nine games, enduring a long rain delay before beating the Pirates.

A three-game sweep in Pittsburgh, highlighted by a 7-6, 15-inning marathon win Wednesday night, helped the Astros move within a half game of Central-leading St. Louis, which lost 9-4 to Milwaukee on Thursday. The Cardinals have lost eight of nine to make the Astros' improbable run possible.

The Astros were 8½ games out on Sept. 20 but still have a chance to pull off one of the game's greatest stretch drive comebacks as they head to Atlanta to finish the season.

Oswalt, winning his sixth game in a row and fifth straight this month, gave up four hits, struck out six and walked two.

Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save in 38 opportunities. Trever Miller and Chad Qualls combined to pitch the eighth.

QUOTABLE: "We've showed a little bit of grit and determination here to jump back in this race." - Astros manager Phil Garner