Wednesday, August 7, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 162



Astros headed toward first with a 'wild card' in the deck

By Geronimo Rodriguez
The Daily Cougar

While it seems as if Drayton McLane and his Astros didn't even bother to make a phone call regarding a potential trade before the deadline and
many fans lost hope in the Astros' chances of playing ball this October, the 'Stros have put together an impressive winning record.

As many die-hard Astros fans know, it's hard to know what ignites this team's winning streaks and it's always better to just let it ride. Especially
when the Astros have two chances to get into the post-season winning the division pennant race or grabbing the wild card it's easy to
forget about the team's conservative play on trades this season.

The pennant

Before the Astros (58-53) began a three-game series Tuesday against the ever-slippery Florida Marlins (55-57), the team was three games
behind St. Louis for the lead in the Central Division and only one game behind second-place Cincinnati.

After the 'Stros defeated the Marlins 2-0, the team was tied for second with Cincinnati and two games behind first-place St. Louis.

Astros right-hander Dave Mlicki (4-7) pitched five innings of shutout baseball Tuesday, allowing only five hits and lowering his earned run
average from 4.65 to 4.30. Mlicki also broke a five-game losing streak.

The Marlins countered with right-hander Josh Beckett (4-5, 4.19), who allowed two runs on three hits before being pulled after the fifth.

Meanwhile, Albert Pujols and the Cardinals (59-50) attempted to fend off Vladimir Guerrero and the Montreal Expos (56-56), and the Reds
(58-53) took on the Colorado Rockies (50-62).

The Red Birds lost to the Expos 10-1. As of press time, the Rockies were leading the Reds 6-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

The Astros, like always, won't be favored to win the pennant, but the recent surge is perhaps all the team needs to pull ahead of the rest. It
doesn't hurt that the 'Stros will wrap up the tail end of this month with a 12-game home stand.

The National League's Wild West rivalries will definitely have a resounding impact on the Astros post-season plans. Along with the Astros and
Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers (62-50) and the Barry Bonds-led San Francisco Giants (61-50) are both vying for the NL's wild card race.

Before the Dodgers and Giants began their respective games Tuesday, the Giants trailed the Dodgers by half a game; the Reds and Astros
were three and four games behind the Dodgers, respectively.

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