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Astros Knock Out Monasterios Early, Beat Dodgers 7-4

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Jason Castro and pinch-hitter Geoff Blum hit consecutive RBI doubles in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the Houston Astros beat Los Angeles, 7-4, to salvage a split in a four-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Hunter Pence belted a two-run homer and Brett Wallace added a two-run single for Houston, which has won four of its last six games.

Jay Gibbons hit a three-run homer for the Dodgers, who have dropped seven of nine.

The Astros pushed four runs home off Los Angeles rookie Carlos Monasterios in the first inning. Monasterios was given the starting nod in place of Vicente Padilla after he was scratched with a bulging disk in his neck.

Michael Bourn led off with a single and Pence hit a one-out blast to left field to put Houston on the board. Carlos Lee then singled and Matt Downs reached on a error before Wallace singled home both runners.

The Dodgers tied the game with a four-run fourth. Houston starter Nelson Figueroa gave up singles to two of the first three hitters, and Gibbons crushed an offering to right field. James Loney then tripled and came home on a Russ Mitchell sacrifice fly.

Houston regained the lead in the fifth after Gustavo Chacin (2-2) retired Gibbons on a fly ball to escape a bases-loaded jam in the top of the inning.

With two outs and a runner on second, Castro and Blum hit consecutive doubles off Ramon Troncoso (1-3) to put the Astros up 6-4.

Lee provided some insurance with a solo home run in the eighth.

Brandon Lyon pitched the ninth for his 15th save of the season.

Pence has 84 RBI this year, a new career high...Los Angeles fell to 2-5 on a 10-game road trip...Monasterios gave up four runs -- three earned -- on five hits in 1 1/3 innings...Figueroa allowed four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.