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Astros short hops
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10/06/2004 7:55 PM ET
Astros short hops
Small-ball approach puts Astros on brink of series win
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HOUSTON -- Astros manager Phil Garner said he wanted his team to manufacture some runs instead of relying on the long ball, and that's exactly what the club did in its Game 3 win.

Houston hitters combined to drive in five runs with two outs in Saturday's 8-5 win over the Braves, and only two of the team's runs came via the long ball. In Games 1 and 2, 73 percent of Houston's offense came on home runs.

With the game tied, 2-2, in the fifth inning, Jeff Kent hit a two-out RBI double and scored when Morgan Ensberg knocked the first of his two two-out hits, an RBI single that made it 4-2. The Astros never looked back.

The Astros drew nine walks in the game, a franchise postseason record, but went just 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 3 of the NLDS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 3.45 Late three-run homer off Russ Springer didn't help
BA .267 After getting four hits in Game 2, Astros struck for 11
BA w/ RISP .222 (4-for-18) Good enough to get the win
Runs 8 Braves' wildness gave Houston plenty of chances
Fldg % 1.000 Houston's first game without an error

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Carlos Beltran .385 average (2-for-5 on Saturday) Hit second homer of the series
Ensberg .400 average (2-for-4, 3 RBIs on Saturday) Leads regulars in hitting

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Jose Vizcaino .000, 0 HR, 0 RBI 0-for-11 in the series

Behind the numbers
The Astros finally played some small ball after relying on home runs in Games 1 and 2. Five of their seven runs scored on two-out hits, none of them on homers. Two came off the bat of third baseman Ensberg, an RBI single in the fifth inning and a two-run double in the sixth.

Astros two-out, run-scoring hits
Hitter Inn. Hit RBIs Score Pitcher
Kent 5th double 2 3-2 Byrd
Ensberg 5th single 1 4-2 Byrd
Berkman 6th single 1 5-2 Martin
Ensberg 6th double 2 7-2 Martin

Frozen moment
The Astros had a chance to give Backe a first-inning lead. With Beltran at second base and Jeff Bagwell at first after a walk, Lance Berkman hit what looked like a sharp RBI single to right field. But the ball struck Bagwell as he motored to second base. Bagwell was out, Beltran had to return to second and Berkman was safe at first on a single. Second baseman Marcus Giles was credited with an unassisted out.

Slick move
Garner took some heat for letting closer Brad Lidge throw 39 pitches in 2 2/3 innings of Game 2. Garner went right back to Lidge in the ninth inning on Saturday and he delivered, pitching a 1-2-3 frame on 12 pitches for the save.

Quick-strike capability
Beltran doubled on the first pitch he saw in the first inning. He hit the first pitch he saw in the third inning, too, connecting for a two-run homer and a 2-0 Astros lead. Two pitches, and he was halfway to the cycle.

Home cooking
The Astros scored their first home playoff win at Minute Maid Park and their first in Houston since 1986 on Saturday. They had lost their last four home playoff games and their last six Game 3s, dating back to 1981.

Last word
"Well, I stated that I'm not a fan of coming back on three days' rest, but I'm a fan of Roger Clemens." -- Garner, who will hand the ball to Clemens in search of a series win on Sunday

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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