Astros still hot, beat Braves

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The Killer B's didn't have to go it alone. Roger Clemens and the powerful Houston lineup made sure the Astros got off to a good start in their quest to finally win a playoff series.

While Clemens continually pitched out of trouble, Brad Ausmus, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Jason Lane homered for the Astros to lead a 9-3 rout of the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of their NL division series Wednesday.

The Astros set a franchise record for runs in a postseason game. They twice scored seven while losing to Philadelphia in the 1980 NLCS -- the first of their seven straight playoff series losses.

Houston dropped three of its last four postseason series to the Braves, most recently in 2001. Much of the blame fell on Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell -- the heart of the "Killer B's" for more than a decade.


Bagwell finally came through with his first postseason extra-base hit, an RBI double that put the Astros ahead for good in the third inning. But he and Biggio played a secondary role in beating the NL East champion Braves, who hardly looked like a team that won its 13th straight division title.

The Astros carried over their momentum from the regular season, which they closed by winning 36 of 46 games to claim an improbable wild card.

Game 2 is Thursday at Turner Field, with Houston sending 20-game winner Roy Oswalt to the mound against former Astro Mike Hampton. If the visitors win again, they'll have two chances to wrap up the series at Minute Maid Park.

Clemens showed the effects of a stomach virus that knocked him out of his last start of the regular season. The Hall of Famer-to-be walked six -- all in the first four innings .

But Clemens also displayed plenty of grit in winning a Game 1 start for the first time in his postseason career.

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