- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

HOUSTON (AP) - Carlos Lee hit a two-run homer, Russ Ortiz pitched well after a rough first inning and the Houston Astros ended the Los Angeles Dodgers’ eight-game winning streak with an 8-5 victory on Tuesday night.

Miguel Tejada drove in three runs and Jose Valverde shrugged off a bruised right heel to shut out the Dodgers in the ninth for his first save. Orlando Hudson hit a hard grounder into Valverde’s heel and the closer limped around and took some warmup pitches before finishing the game.

Ortiz (1-0) gave up three runs in the first inning, then stifled the Dodgers for the next four while the Astros took over. Los Angeles came in with the highest batting average in the majors (.302) and an NL-leading 82 runs.

Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning for Los Angeles and drove in three to pass Honus Wagner for 18th on the career list. The dreadlocked slugger has 1,735 RBIs.

The Dodgers seemed on their way to another big night when Ortiz walked the first two hitters and Ramirez blooped an RBI single into left to pass Wagner. James Loney and Martin knocked in runs later in the inning for a 3-0 lead.

Lance Berkman had an RBI single in the bottom half and Houston added three more in the third against Clayton Kershaw (0-1). Tejada doubled in Kaz Matsui to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2. After Berkman flied out, Lee hit a drive off the brick facade in left for his third homer of the season.

Matt Kemp tripled to center with one out in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. But the Dodgers stranded him, failing to muster another hit off Ortiz in the inning. Los Angeles left 10 men on base in the game.

Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Keppinger led off the Astros’ fourth with singles and Ortiz advanced them with a bunt. Matsui popped out before Tejada blooped a two-run single to right for a 6-3 lead.

The Dodgers hadn’t allowed more than five runs since their last loss, 9-4 to Arizona on April 10. Kershaw allowed six runs and eight hits before Guillermo Mota replaced him with one out in the fifth.

Ortiz, meanwhile, got better with each inning. He struck out Ramirez looking in the fifth, then got Loney on a groundout to wrap up his 116-pitch outing. Wesley Wright relieved in the sixth.

Mota issued a bases-loaded walk to Matsui in the sixth to make it 7-3 and Dodgers manager Joe Torre brought in right-hander Ramon Troncoso, who retired the next two batters.

Matsui added a sacrifice fly in the eighth for Houston.

Notes:@ The Astros’ run total was a season high. … Torre said RHP Hiroki Kuroda would throw a bullpen session in the next day or two and could be ready to pitch by the end of April. Kuroda went on the disabled list on April 10 with an oblique muscle strain. … Keppinger returned after missing the last four games with a lower back strain. … Astros RHP Brian Moehler is due to make a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. Moehler went on the disabled list last Tuesday with a sprained right knee.

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