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Oswalt's gem propels Astros to sweep of Pirates

HOUSTON (AP) — Roy Oswalt allowed only a first-inning single to Neil Walker, Lance Berkman provided the power with two home runs and the Houston Astros completed a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-0 win Thursday.

Oswalt's seventh career shutout and 19th complete game finished the Astros' third sweep of the season — second over the Pirates, the only team in the NL Central with a worse record than Houston. His last shutout came in September 2008 against Pittsburgh and his previous complete game was against the Dodgers last July.

The win breaks a career-long, six-game home losing streak for Oswalt (6-10), who requested a trade from the team earlier this season. He struck out eight and walked two for his first victory at Minute Maid Park since April 23.

Berkman has homered in four straight games for the first time since 2007 and has almost doubled his home run total for the season in that span. He had just seven homers before the current streak and Thursday was his 25th career game with more than one home run.

The two solo shots came in the first and fourth innings and both landed in the Crawford Boxes in left field.

Carlos Lee singled and Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf walked Hunter Pence after Berkman's second homer, prompting a short visit to the mound by Pittsburgh coaches. Ohlendorf (1-7) pitched out of trouble by retiring the next three batters, striking the first two out.

Oswalt allowed a single to Walker with two outs in the first inning and he walked Ryan Church with one out in the second. He then retired the next 12 batters before walking Andrew McCutchen with one out in the sixth inning.

After Jose Tabata flew out to center field, the Astros looked to have ended the inning when McCutchen was caught stealing at second. Players began trotting off the field before an umpire ruled Oswalt balked and McCutchen could stay at second. Astros manager Brad Mills briefly came out to argue the call but soon retreated and Walker grounded out to end the inning.

Oswalt pitched a perfect seventh before he was slowed briefly in the eighth inning when a ball hit by Bobby Crosby bounced off his right hand. Oswalt made the throw to first base for the out before a trainer came out to examine his hand. He made a couple of pitches as Astros officials looked on before remaining in the game. He hit Jason Jaramillo with a pitch before striking out Delwyn Young and McCutchen.

Berkman made a nifty diving catch for the first out in the ninth to help Oswalt before he struck out the last two batters to complete the shutout — the second one-hitter of his career. The first came in Sept. 6, 2008, at Colorado.

Thursday was the third time this season the Pirates have been shut out with Ohlendorf on the mound. He allowed seven hits and two runs with five strikeouts in seven innings.

NOTES: Play was halted briefly when a male fan ran onto the field in the bottom of the eighth inning. He ran around toward center field for a few seconds before four security guards and a police officer reached him. He quickly went to the ground as the police officer approached and was handcuffed and led off the field. Berkman, who singled just before the incident, chuckled as he was led away. ... Houston RHP Felipe Paulino, on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, threw 30 pitches of live batting practice before Thursday's game. He said he felt good after the session and Mills said he is on schedule to return to the rotation after the All-Star break. ... Pittsburgh LHP Zach Duke, on the disabled list with a left elbow strain, is set to make his second rehabilitation start on Saturday for Double-A Altoona. ... Houston shortstop Angel Sanchez, who was acquired from Boston on Sunday, hit his first career triple in the seventh inning.