Clutch hits. Outstanding relief work. Late-inning rallies.

All of that has kept Houston alive and confident about the NL wild-card race. Philadelphia had none of it on its homestand and is fading from the playoff picture.

Eric Bruntlett, Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman homered during a seven-run rally in the seventh, and the Houston Astros turned a game-changing triple play to beat Philadelphia, 12-10, sending the Phillies to their seventh straight loss.

"We need wins more than anything, but this also shows how we can come back," Astros Manager Phil Garner said yesterday. "Emotions are real high right now."

The Phillies led 7-2 in the fifth when Todd Pratt grounded into a bases-loaded triple play, the first turned by Houston in 13 years. The Astros, hoping to hang on in the NL wild-card race, swept the three-game series and won their fourth in a row and finished 5-4 on their road trip.

Philadelphia finished a 1-9 homestand and gave Manager Larry Bowa another reason to worry about his job a day after General Manager Ed Wade declined to give him an endorsement.

The Phillies matched a team record for most losses on a homestand -- they went 1-9-1 in 1941 at Connie Mack Stadium. The Phillies were coming off a 5-1 end to a West Coast trip, making the collapse even more puzzling.

"Nobody in their right mind thought we'd go 1-9 at home," losing pitcher Roberto Hernandez said.

Chad Qualls (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless sixth, and Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.

* CUBS 9, BREWERS 6: Greg Maddux overcame a shaky start to earn his 301st win, and Sammy Sosa hit one of Chicago's three home runs in Milwaukee.

Maddux (12-8) allowed four runs in the first but settled down to push the Cubs within a half-game of idle San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.

Maddux won for the fifth time in his six decisions. He retired 13 of his final 14 batters and left after seven innings with an 8-5 lead.

* METS 10-4, ROCKIES 3-2: Mike Cameron homered and drove in four runs, and Kris Benson pitched six solid innings to lead New York past Colorado in the first game of a doubleheader in Denver.

In the nightcap, David Wright hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the ninth to complete the sweep.

* PIRATES 3, CARDINALS 2: Scott Rolen's second error of the game allowed the go-ahead run to score in the 10th in St. Louis.

Reggie Sanders tied it at 2 in the ninth with a two-out homer off Pittsburgh closer Jose Mesa.

Oliver Perez had 10 strikeouts and allowed only an unearned run in seven innings for the Pirates, who have won nine of 12 and have a four-game winning streak against the NL Central leaders.

* BRAVES 6, DODGERS 5: Johnny Estrada homered, drove in three runs and started Atlanta's go-ahead rally in the ninth, and the visiting Braves beat Eric Gagne.

In a matchup of division leaders, the Dodgers scored twice in the eighth to tie it at 5. But Gagne gave up the run in the ninth to lose for the second time in as many nights.

Greg Maddux gets career win No. 301 in Cubs' 9-6 victory over the Brewers.