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Taguchi's RBI single lifts Cards over Astros in 11th

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- After the Houston Astros re-signed Roger Clemens, the St. Louis Cardinals put some more distance between themselves and their top rival in the NL Central.

So Taguchi's bases-loaded single in the 11th inning off Mike Gallo gave the Cardinals a 4-3 victory on Wednesday, spoiling Houston's first game since re-signing Clemens. The Cardinals took two of three from the Astros, who beat them in the NLCS last year en route to their first World Series.

"There's definitely a little more of that extra oomph, or whatever you want to call it," David Eckstein said. "Hopefully we get up for every game, but it's definitely nice to be able to go out there and take two out of three from them."

The Astros rebounded from a 15-30 start to win the NL wild card last year. They're in third place in the Central at 27-27, 7½ games back of the Cardinals, after wrapping up a 3-7 trip.

"It's been a tough, tough road trip," manager Phil Garner said. "I'm glad to get it over and get home for a while."

Eckstein had two hits, scored twice, and avoided injury when he was hit on the wrist in the 11th. Albert Pujols drove in his major league-leading 65th run for the Cardinals.

Taguchi, the Cardinals' fourth outfielder, is 6-for-10 with eight RBI with the bases loaded this season and 16-for-30 for his career. In his two previous at-bats after entering as a pinch hitter in the seventh, he said he chased too many pitches out of the zone.

"That's a great situation," Taguchi said. "The pitcher has to pitch a strike, so I was just waiting middle, and the ball comes middle."

Gallo took two losses on the trip.

"This game's streaky," Gallo said. "Eventually, there's only one way to go, and that's up."

Braden Looper (3-0) struck out one in a perfect 11th for the Cardinals, who are an NL-best 20-8 at new Busch Stadium and have not lost a series there.

Orlando Palmeiro had two hits and scored twice for the Astros, who finished a dismal 11-19 May and are 8-19 on the road.

Yadier Molina doubled off Gallo (1-2) with one out in the 11th, the Cardinals' first hit since the fifth. Molina remained at second on Aaron Miles' infield hit, gloved by sprawling third baseman Morgan Ensberg. Gallo hit Eckstein in the wrist on an 0-2 pitch to load the bases and Taguchi singled up the middle on a 1-0 count.

"That was a fine piece of hitting," manager Tony La Russa said. "He didn't try to do too much, just stroked it."

Palmeiro, who entered the game 0-for-17 against Jeff Suppan, was 2-for-2 and scored twice in his first two at-bats. He doubled in the first and scored on Lance Berkman's single, then singled to start the third and scored on Chris Burke's groundout for a 2-0 lead.

The Cardinals missed a chance for an inning-ending double play on Burke's ball when Mike Lamb, running from first, dodged the tag attempt of second baseman Miles. Second base umpire Bruce Dreckman ruled that Lamb did not leave the basepath.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the first against Taylor Buchholz thanks to a potential double-play grounder by Pujols that hit Dreckman. After Scott Rolen was plunked to load the bases with one out, Buchholz retired Juan Encarnacion on a shallow fly ball and Larry Bigbie struck out looking.

Pujols' groundout in the third scored Eckstein, who hit a leadoff double.

The Astros' decision to intentionally walk Pujols with one out and a runner on second in the fifth backfired when Rolen followed with an RBI double, his third double in two games, to tie it. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead when Encarnacion struck out on a wild pitch that allowed Pujols to score from third.

Suppan had a pair of three-up, three-down innings with the help of a double play in the fourth and fifth and retired the first two in the sixth before the Astros tied it on doubles by Brad Ausmus and Eric Bruntlett.

Buchholz gave up three runs and five hits in five innings. He was 1-3 in six May starts, allowing 30 runs in 32 innings.

Notes

  • Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds missed his fifth consecutive start with a lower abdominal injury. He was scheduled to meet with a specialist on Wednesday with suspicion returning to a sports hernia, and La Russa expects him to be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Encarnacion made his first start of the season in CF.
  • Buchholz singled in the second for his first career hit after starting the season 0-for-19 -- the most at-bats for a position player or pitcher this year without a hit, according to Stats, Inc.
  • Eckstein leads the NL with 23 multihit games. An X-ray after the hit by pitch showed only a bruise on his left wrist.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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John Rodriguez hugs So Taguchi after the outfielder wins the game with a bases-loaded single.  (AP)
John Rodriguez hugs So Taguchi after the outfielder wins the game with a bases-loaded single. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

S. Taguchi
AB 3
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 1
St. Louis

D. Eckstein
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5000022 .268
Orlando Palmeiro, LF4220000 .238
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
   a- Eric Munson, PH1000001 .298
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Preston Wilson, RF0000000 .265
Lance Berkman, RF-LF4021120 .297
Morgan Ensberg, 3B5010013 .265
Mike Lamb, 1B3010202 .359
Chris Burke, 2B5001014 .273
Brad Ausmus, C5110023 .298
Eric Bruntlett, SS5021010 .333
Taylor Buchholz, P2010000 .048
   b- Craig Biggio, PH1000001 .284
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Jason Lane, LF-RF1000000 .194
    Mike Gallo, P0000000 .000
Totals4131033916 
a-flied out for Borkowski in the 9th
b-flied out for Buchholz in the 6th
Batting
2B - Orlando Palmeiro (1, Suppan), Lance Berkman (9, Suppan), Mike Lamb (5, Wainwright), Brad Ausmus (9, Suppan), Eric Bruntlett (5, Suppan)
SH - Jason Lane (2)
RBI - Lance Berkman (45), Chris Burke (9), Eric Bruntlett (8)
2-OUT RBI - Eric Bruntlett (5)
Team LOB - 9
Houston Astros
Taylor Buchholz 5533320 5.55
Trever Miller 1000010 5.40
Dave Borkowski 2000030 3.80
Dan Wheeler 1000000 4.63
Russ Springer 1000110 3.26
Mike Gallo (L,1-2) 0.2311000 6.06
IBB - Pujols by Taylor Buchholz
HBP - Rolen (by Taylor Buchholz), Eckstein (by Mike Gallo)
WP - Taylor Buchholz (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Taylor Buchholz 107-57, Trever Miller 8-7, Dave Borkowski 23-18, Dan Wheeler 17-9, Russ Springer 17-10, Mike Gallo 18-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Taylor Buchholz 9-5, Trever Miller 2-0, Dave Borkowski 2-1, Dan Wheeler 1-2, Russ Springer 1-1, Mike Gallo 1-1
Batters Faced - Taylor Buchholz 25, Trever Miller 3, Dave Borkowski 6, Dan Wheeler 3, Russ Springer 4, Mike Gallo 6
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS5220000 .330
John Rodriguez, RF3010001 .341
   a- So Taguchi, PH-CF3011000 .284
Albert Pujols, 1B3111210 .315
Scott Rolen, 3B4011011 .325
Juan Encarnacion, CF-RF5000024 .242
Larry Bigbie, LF3000123 .217
    Jason Isringhausen, P0000000 .000
    Braden Looper, P1000000 .500
Yadier Molina, C4110103 .176
Aaron Miles, 2B5010001 .292
Jeff Suppan, P2000000 .059
   b- Jason Marquis, PH1000010 .188
    Adam Wainwright, P0000000 .500
    Hector Luna, LF2000002 .333
Totals414834715 
a-flied out for Rodriguez in the 7th
b-struck out for Suppan in the 6th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein (8, Buchholz), Scott Rolen (15, Buchholz), Yadier Molina (7, Gallo)
RBI - So Taguchi (18), Albert Pujols (65), Scott Rolen (28)
2-OUT RBI - So Taguchi (7), Scott Rolen (10)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Eckstein-Miles-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Suppan 6833220 5.06
Adam Wainwright 2100030 2.03
Jason Isringhausen 2100130 3.05
Braden Looper (W,3-0) 1000010 3.63
IBB - Lamb by Jeff Suppan
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Suppan 98-61, Adam Wainwright 30-21, Jason Isringhausen 34-21, Braden Looper 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Suppan 7-8, Adam Wainwright 1-2, Jason Isringhausen 1-2
Batters Faced - Jeff Suppan 27, Adam Wainwright 7, Jason Isringhausen 8, Braden Looper 3
Game Information
Attendance - 43534
Game Time - 3:42
Temperature - 85
Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Larry Poncino, Second Base - Bruce Dreckman, Third Base - Rob Drake