Forget the first seven innings. These days, the Astros are making the final two count.
Craig Biggio's first grand slam in 13 years came with one out in the ninth and Houston beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Friday night for its fifth straight victory.
On Thursday night, Houston rallied from 6-2 down with five runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to beat Cincinnati 8-6. The night before, the Astros scored five in the eighth and one in the ninth for a 7-2 win over the Reds.
``You just get the feeling on the bench that something's going to work,'' manager Phil Garner said of the Astros' late-game heroics.
On Friday night, the runs almost didn't come. If Biggio's shot had traveled 6 inches fewer, center fielder Bill Hall said he would have had it. Hall tried a leaping grab and came up just short, looking up in the sky in disbelief.
``I took a good route to it and I just tried to jump and catch it,'' Hall said. ``I just missed it by 6 inches or maybe even a little less than that.''
Biggio's third career grand slam came on his 2,945th hit.
``It's not something that I do a lot, that's for sure,'' Biggio said. ``I was just trying to get the ball up in the air a little bit and definitely got the bonus out of it. It was just one of those crazy games.''
In other NL games Friday, it was: St. Louis 2, Chicago 1; Atlanta 7, New York 3; Cincinnati 2, Philadelphia 1, 10 innings; Washington 6, Florida 5, 14 innings; San Diego 11, Colorado 1; San Francisco 4, Arizona 2; and Los Angeles 9, Pittsburgh 1.
At Houston, Chris Burke led off the bottom of the ninth with a bunt single off Matt Wise (0-1). Adam Everett walked on four pitches while trying to sacrifice Burke over.
Brad Ausmus also tried a sacrifice bunt, but catcher Johnny Estrada couldn't throw out Burke at third, loading the bases with no outs. Reliever Greg Aquino struck out pinch-hitter Mike Lamb before Biggio's slam into the Brewers' bullpen in left-center field.
``He threw me a breaking ball, and I was able to just get it far enough,'' Biggio said.
It was almost all for naught.
Former Astros closer Brad Lidge walked Tony Gwynn and Rickie Weeks to begin the ninth, and after a strikeout, Prince Fielder homered down the right field line to cut the lead to 6-5.
Lidge then got Hall to ground out before Estrada hit a double to the gap. The Astros brought in Trever Miller to face pinch-hitter Corey Hart, who was intentionally walked, then went to Chad Qualls, who got pinch-hitter Gabe Gross to ground out for his first save.
Rick White (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.
Cardinals 2, Cubs 1
Braden Looper allowed five hits in seven innings, Preston Wilson hit a long two-run homer in the seventh and visiting St. Louis snapped a four-game losing streak.
In just his fourth major league start, former closer Looper (3-1) outpitched Ted Lilly (1-2) and Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his fourth save.
Braves 7, Mets 3
At New York, Tim Hudson was downright stingy over eight sharp innings and Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer for Atlanta.
Kelly Johnson also had two hits as the Braves moved into first in the NL East by winning the opener of the weekend series between the top two teams in the division.
Hudson (3-0) allowed five hits and walked two.
The Mets' Mike Pelfrey (0-1) lasted five innings, allowing four runs and six hits.
Reds 2, Phillies 1, 10 innings
Scott Hatteberg hit a two-out, solo homer that tied it in the ninth, and Brandon Phillips singled with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to lift host Cincinnati.
One out away from closing out a combined one-hitter, Tom Gordon (0-1) gave up Hatteberg's homer on a belt-high, 3-1 pitch, the closer's first blown save in two chances. In the 10th, Gordon walked Javier Valentin with one out in the 10th, Ryan Freel followed with a single, and Adam Dunn walked.
Jon Coutlangus (1-0) pitched a scoreless 10th for his first career win
Nationals 6, Marlins 5, 14 innings
Chris Snelling singled off first baseman Mike Jacobs' glove to drive in Ryan Church from second in the 14th inning for visiting Washington.
Church singled to right off Lee Gardner to lead off the 14th and stole second. On Snelling's two-out single, second baseman Jason Wood quickly retrieved the ball off Jacobs' glove and fired home, but Church slid in safely when Matt Treanor couldn't handle the throw.
Jesus Colome (2-0) picked up the win for the Nationals with three scoreless innings. Saul Rivera recorded his first save.
Lee Gardner (0-1), the Marlins' eighth pitcher, took the loss for Florida.
Padres 11, Rockies 1
Adrian Gonzalez homered and matched his career high with four RBIs and Chris Young continued his mastery of host Colorado.
Young (2-1), whose loss Sunday at Los Angeles snapped his major league record-tying mark of 25 straight starts on the road without a defeat, stopped the Rockies' bats just like he did last year when he won both of his starts at Coors Field. He's 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA against Colorado.
Young allowed four hits, all singles, and a run in seven innings.
Josh Fogg (0-1) gave up eight runs - seven earned - in three innings for Colorado.
Giants 4, Diamondbacks 2
Russ Ortiz (2-1) pitched seven strong innings to win his second straight start, and even singled to help host San Francisco beat his former team.
Barry Bonds went 2-for-4 with a single and double for his second multihit game of the year to raise his batting average from .306 to .325.
Doug Davis (1-2) gave up three runs in the first and took the loss for Arizona.
Dodgers 10, Pirates 2
Randy Wolf struck out a season-high 10, hit a two-run double that highlighted a six-run third inning and host Los Angeles improved on the best record in the majors.
Luis Gonzalez, Nomar Garciaparra and Andre Ethier had two RBIs each for the NL West-leading Dodgers, who are 12-5, with eight wins in their past 10 games.
Wolf (3-1) allowed one run and six hits in six innings. Tony Armas (0-2) took the loss for Pittsburgh.

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