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Berkman makes eighth career start at first

ATLANTA -- Lance Berkman was activated from the disabled list Friday by the struggling Houston Astros and started in an unfamiliar position -- first base.

Berkman missed the first month of the season after offseason knee surgery. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing flag football in November.

After a minor-league rehab assignment, Berkman was added to the 25-man roster for the second game of a series against the Braves. Infielder Chris Burke was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock just before the game.

Instead of going to his usual spot in the outfield, Berkman played first base for only the eighth time in his seven-year career. He figured that would put less stress on his knee, and the spot was open with Jeff Bagwell sitting out his third straight game because of a shoulder that has bothered him all season.

Burke, hitting .222 with three RBI, was the victim of bad timing. The Kentucky native had plenty of friends at Turner Field, including his high school basketball coach.

"There's not a whole lot of comfort in this situation," Burke said. "It's frustrating. Just caught in a tight spot."

Bagwell, who was available for pinch-hitting duty, will have another cortisone shot in his ailing shoulder when the Astros get back to Houston next week. He had a shot just before Opening Day and must wait six weeks to get another one.

"I hate to see it, but it's where things are right now," manager Phil Garner said. "So we adjust, adapt and overcome."