|St. Louis «||1||0||8||0||0||1||0||1||0||11||14||2|
HOUSTON -- Facing the St. Louis Cardinals' powerful lineup is a daunting task for any pitcher. Especially a rookie such as Wandy Rodriguez.
"I thought he could get us out of the inning because we were going against the end of the lineup," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "But then Marquis gets that home run ... that put a final fork in him."
Sanders went 4-for-4 with five RBI, Marquis was 3-for-3 with two hits in the third and Albert Pujols homered in the eighth to help preserve the victory for the Cardinals, who have won 11 of 15.
Jason Isringhausen got three outs for his 17th save in 18 chances, rebounding quickly after his first blown save against Colorado on Thursday.
The Cardinals have won five straight and six of seven against the last-place Astros, a totally different club than the one they beat in seven games in the NL championship series last fall.
Now missing the big bats of All-Stars Carlos Beltran and Jeff Kent, Houston ranks last in the majors in hitting and scoring -- and last in the NL Central standings.
But the Astros responded with one of their best offensive performances of late, tying their third-highest scoring output of the season.
And it still wasn't enough against the division-leading Cardinals.
"We thought we had a blowout and then they came pounding back," said Sanders, who had a career-high three doubles and tied a career best for hits. "They always give us a fight."
Marquis (7-3) gave up six runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings for his second straight win. He made up for a shaky performance on the mound with a career high-tying three hits and did just enough to outpitch Rodriguez.
"It was definitely nice to have that big lead," said Marquis, who is hitting .375. "But I think with a big lead like that, it affects you subconsciously. I probably settled in too much."
Coming off his first career win in his previous start last Saturday, Rodriguez (1-2) was roughed up early during a dreadful home debut.
Sanders' run-scoring double in the first was only a preview of the outburst to come in the third.
The Cardinals sent 11 batters to the plate, starting with consecutive singles by Marquis and David Eckstein. With runners at second and third and one out, Pujols was intentionally walked to load the bases. Sanders followed with a long shot to left for his second career slam, giving St. Louis a 5-1 lead.
Rodriguez was clearly shaken after that, cursing loudly, and angrily shaking his head after watching the ball sail out of the park.
"We didn't make very many good pitches and they made us pay," Garner said. "It seemed like we couldn't get out of that inning."
Brandon Backe ended the inning by getting Eckstein on a popup.
Rodriguez allowed nine runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking two. He has an ERA of 10.67 in three starts since he was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on May 23.
The 26-year-old lefty was distraught after the game, sitting with his head in his hands and remaining silent for several minutes as reporters gathered around him.
"I had a lot of bad luck," Rodriguez finally said, his voice barely above a whisper.
The Astros simply couldn't overcome his poor start.
Lance Berkman and Adam Everett had run-scoring singles, and Jason Lane grounded into a double play to score Craig Biggio in the fourth, cutting the Cardinals' lead to 9-4. Chris Burke added an RBI double in the fifth.
Abraham Nunez, pinch-hitting for Seabol, singled in Sanders to give St. Louis a 10-5 lead in the sixth.
But the Astros got an RBI single from rookie catcher Humberto Quintero in the bottom half, and Berkman added a two-run homer in the seventh to close the gap to 10-8.
Pujols connected in the eighth off Chad Harville to give Isringhausen a little more cushion.
"There were several times when the game could have gotten away from us," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But our pitching staff was able to make some key pitches to stop them."
Houston's Morgan Ensberg homered in the second for his 11th of the year, second among NL third basemen.
|Pitcher Jason Marquis rounds the bases after his two-run homer in the third inning. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Eckstein, SS||5||2||2||0||1||1||0||.303|
|Jim Edmonds, CF||4||0||0||0||1||2||3||.272|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||3||2||1||1||2||0||4||.335|
|Reggie Sanders, LF||4||2||4||5||1||0||0||.261|
|Mark Grudzielanek, 2B||5||1||1||0||0||1||5||.325|
|Larry Walker, RF||3||1||1||1||0||1||2||.252|
|John Mabry, RF||1||0||0||0||1||0||1||.262|
|Scott Seabol, 3B||2||1||1||1||1||0||0||.276|
|a- Abraham Nunez, PH-3B||2||0||1||1||0||0||1||.277|
|Yadier Molina, C||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.250|
|Jason Marquis, P||3||2||3||2||0||0||0||.375|
|Randy Flores, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Roger Cedeno, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.161|
|Brad Thompson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Al Reyes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- So Taguchi, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.230|
|Jason Isringhausen, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-singled for Seabol in the 6th|
|b-grounded out for Flores in the 7th|
|c-grounded out for Reyes in the 9th|
|2B - Reggie Sanders 3 (8, Rodriguez, Harville, Qualls)|
|3B - Larry Walker (1, Rodriguez)|
|HR - Albert Pujols (14, Qualls), Reggie Sanders (11, Rodriguez), Jason Marquis (1, Rodriguez)|
|RBI - Albert Pujols (44), Reggie Sanders 5 (28), Larry Walker (22), Scott Seabol (5), Abraham Nunez (13), Jason Marquis 2 (6)|
|2-OUT RBI - Reggie Sanders (16), Jason Marquis 2 (3)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Seabol-Grudzielanek-Pujols|
|E - Jason Marquis (1, Wild throw), Scott Seabol (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jason Marquis (W,7-3)||5.2||10||6||3||0||1||1||3.50|
|Randy Flores (H,5)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.00|
|Al Reyes (H,7)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.11|
|Jason Isringhausen (S,17)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1.86|
|HBP - Burke (by Brad Thompson)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jason Marquis 88-56, Randy Flores 5-3, Brad Thompson 25-15, Al Reyes 18-13, Jason Isringhausen 10-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Marquis 10-5, Brad Thompson 2-1, Al Reyes 1-1, Jason Isringhausen 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jason Marquis 26, Randy Flores 1, Brad Thompson 6, Al Reyes 3, Jason Isringhausen 3|
|Willy Taveras, CF||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.260|
|a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.300|
|Chris Burke, LF||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.214|
|Craig Biggio, 2B||5||2||0||0||0||1||1||.277|
|Lance Berkman, 1B||4||2||2||3||0||0||0||.253|
|Morgan Ensberg, 3B||4||2||3||1||0||0||0||.287|
|Jason Lane, RF||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.224|
|Adam Everett, SS||3||0||2||2||0||0||0||.247|
|Humberto Quintero, C||4||0||1||1||0||0||1||.250|
|Wandy Rodriguez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Brandon Backe, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.261|
|Chad Harville, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|b- Mike Lamb, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.198|
|John Franco, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chad Qualls, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Todd Self, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.190|
|Russ Springer, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for Taveras in the 9th|
|b-lined out for Harville in the 6th|
|c-struck out for Qualls in the 8th|
|2B - Chris Burke 2 (3, Marquis, Marquis)|
|3B - Jason Lane (2, Thompson)|
|HR - Lance Berkman (3, Thompson), Morgan Ensberg (11, Marquis)|
|SF - Adam Everett (3)|
|RBI - Chris Burke (4), Lance Berkman 3 (10), Morgan Ensberg (28), Adam Everett 2 (20), Humberto Quintero (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman 2 (5), Adam Everett (9), Humberto Quintero (1)|
|CS - Chris Burke (2, 3rd base by Marquis/Molina)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Ensberg-Biggio-Berkman, Everett-Biggio-Berkman|
|Wandy Rodriguez (L,1-2)||2.2||9||9||9||2||4||2||10.67|
|IBB - Pujols by Wandy Rodriguez|
|Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 71-45, Brandon Backe 41-22, Chad Harville 25-15, John Franco 14-8, Chad Qualls 14-10, Russ Springer 12-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 1-2, Brandon Backe 4-2, Chad Harville 1-2, John Franco 2-0, Chad Qualls 2-1, Russ Springer 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 18, Brandon Backe 11, Chad Harville 6, John Franco 3, Chad Qualls 5, Russ Springer 3|
|Attendance - 39288|
|Game Time - 3:14|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Mike Winters, First Base - Bruce Froemming, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Jerry Meals|