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Notes: Pettitte catches the flu

Notes: Pettitte catches the flu

HOUSTON -- Andy Pettitte wasn't around for the celebration when the Astros won Game 4 of the Division Series on Sunday, and with good reason. He's got a touch of the flu, and the club wanted to protect the rest of the team from whatever virus the left-hander came down with in the last day or so.

The team is confident Pettitte will be better by his next start, slated for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series in St. Louis on Wednesday. Had the Astros lost to the Braves on Sunday, he would have been scheduled to pitch Game 5 in Atlanta. The club wasn't sure Pettitte would have been able to make that start.

"When he left, he wasn't violently ill," general manager Tim Purpura said. "It was just a touch of the flu. I was more worried about his start tomorrow. Now that he will get a full day of rest, I think he should be OK. We don't start playing until Wednesday."

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Pettitte had planned to fly to Atlanta earlier on Sunday in anticipation of Game 5 at Turner Field on Monday. Instead, he arrived late to the game at Minute Maid Park and left early, prior to the champagne celebration.

"We sent him home because we didn't want him around the guys today," manager Phil Garner said. "We think he's going to be OK."

Decisions, decisions: Orlando Palmeiro's career numbers against Tim Hudson factored into Garner's decision to start the veteran outfielder in Game 1 of the Division Series, and heading into Game 4, Garner had to again make a choice.

Start Palmeiro, who is 12-for-29 (.414) lifetime versus Hudson, or play Mike Lamb, whose hot bat contributed to the Astros' 7-3 win over the Braves in Game 3.

Garner decided to go with Lamb, and understandably so. The first baseman knocked a solo homer off Jorge Sosa in the third inning Saturday that broke a 2-2 tie, and he also drew two intentional walks.

"I thought about [playing Palmeiro] a lot," Garner said. "But the bottom line is, you have to look at the plusses. ... If Palmeiro is in the lineup, we're probably a little bit better defensively. If Lamb is in the lineup, we have a little more sock."

Given a choice, Garner picked sock.

"And, Lamb poses a little more of a threat behind Morgan [Ensberg] against a right-handed pitcher," Garner added.

The beneficiary of all of this was Jason Lane, who hits behind Lamb. Lane didn't take it personally when the Braves intentionally walked Lamb twice on Saturday, but at the same time, he used the strategy as motivation.

The first time Lamb was walked, Lane knocked a sac fly to drive in the Astros' second run. With first base open, the Braves walked Lamb in the big seventh frame to load the bases, and Lane laced a single to left, driving in one run.

"I understand why they would do it," Lane said of walking Lamb. "But at the same time, it kind of calls you out a little bit. You don't want to be the weak link.

"It's just been nice to come through and get a couple hits and drive some runs in and do my part. I think that's just been the great thing about this team -- everyone's been doing their part and no one's trying to carry the team."

Respect: Two native Texans and current Atlanta Braves remember a time, long ago, when the Astros were their favorite team.

Ryan Langerhans, who grew up in Round Rock, and Kelly Johnson, raised in Austin, attended their first Major League game in the Astrodome. Langerhans was 8, and Johnson, whose grandparents lived in Houston and took him to games, was 3 or 4.

Langerhans, 25, said Craig Biggio was always one of his favorite players. Johnson, 23, said his three favorites were Ken Caminiti, Nolan Ryan and Biggio.

"I don't think there's a person in all America that doesn't like that guy [Biggio]," Johnson said. "Now I'm up in the big leagues, he's everything that baseball is all about. He started as a catcher, moved to second base, moved to the outfield because the team needed him. He never misses a game.

"He gets hit by pitches, steals bases, he does everything. Every guy up here who's played with him, he's one of their favorite players to play with."

Right call: Brad Ausmus had some heady words for first base umpire Gary Cedarstrom after Ausmus was called out on a double play that ended the Astros' rally-producing seventh frame on Saturday.

Ausmus felt he was safe, and he let the umpire know it. But Ausmus later looked at the replay and saw Cedarstrom made the right call, and he told the umpire as much.

Now it's Garner's turn to do the same.

"I said, 'You look at it again and you'll see you're wrong,'" Garner recalled. "He said, 'I will look at it.' I'll have to call him and tell him he was right. I'll have to eat a little crow."

College history: Before this series began, Hudson already had a leg up on Lance Berkman, although the victory was a long time ago, before either was in the big leagues.

As a junior at Auburn in 1997, Hudson joined J.D. Drew of Florida State and Lance Berkman of Rice in Houston as finalists for the Smith Award, which went each year to the top college player in the country.

Berkman had already been named the winner of the Player of the Year honors by the college baseball coaches, and Drew had won the Golden Spikes and Dick Howser trophies, so it seemed they were the leading candidates.

Given that Berkman was just the fourth player in NCAA history to hit 40 homers in a season, he seemed like a cinch to win the award in the city where he played college baseball. But Hudson was named the winner.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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