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Astros pick up win against Cards with strong outing from Oswalt

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- The Houston Astros know they are a long shot to make the playoffs. At least, the defending NL champions enjoyed the end of their road trip.

Roy Oswalt pitched shutout ball into the ninth inning and Lance Berkman hit his 40th home run, helping the Astros bounce back from a dispiriting loss to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 Wednesday in the finale of a nine-game swing.

"I hope it carries over and gives us a little momentum going back home," manager Phil Garner said after the Astros concluded the trip 4-5. "We need to re-establish ourselves."

The Astros ended a three-game losing streak and averted a three-game sweep against a team they're chasing in the NL Central. On Tuesday, Albert Pujols hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth off Brad Lidge for a 6-5 victory.

Chris Burke, starting at second base for the second straight game in place of slumping Craig Biggio, had two hits and two RBI. Still, Houston was six games behind the Cardinals in the Central and 4½ games back in the wild card standings with only 17 games left.

"We're so far behind that we have to win every series for sure," Oswalt said. "Then we'll just see what it ends up."

Garner said he hasn't attempted to calculate what it would take to extend what has been a frustrating season for the Astros (71-74).

"We're not even at .500," he said. "We can't even start to play those kind of games yet."

The Cardinals got only two runners into scoring position before the ninth against Oswalt (13-8), who gave up one run and seven hits in 8 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

With one out in the ninth, the Cardinals hit three consecutive singles off Oswalt for their lone run. Trever Miller relieved and got one out. Dan Wheeler earned his fifth save in seven chances by striking out pinch-hitter Preston Wilson.

Oswalt is 4-0 in his last five starts, matching his season-best, four-game winning streak, and has won five straight September decisions dating to last season. Working with a big lead, he was able to challenge the hitters.

"I didn't have my best fastball, but I was able to spot it," Oswalt said. "You get to go after guys. They were swinging at some early pitches, so I was able to get deep into the ballgame."

Jason Marquis (14-15) pitched on three days' rest for the eighth time in his career and lasted only 10 batters. The Astros batted around in a four-run first, including a bases-loaded walk to Luke Scott, a two-run single by Burke and an RBI single by Eric Bruntlett.

"I felt fine, I warmed up fine," Marquis said. "It just didn't translate and carry over to the game."

Berkman was 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series with five strikeouts before going 3-for-4 with a walk in the finale. He was a triple shy of the cycle, and his homer off Josh Hancock in the sixth gave the Astros a 5-0 lead.

Marquis was pulled after yielding a leadoff hit to Willy Taveras in the second after laboring for 52 pitches. The Cardinals have totaled one run in his last three starts, although Marquis was much better in the previous two outings.

Marquis exited with a 5.82 ERA. Only two pitchers since 1900 have finished with higher ERAs and won 14 or more games -- Wes Ferrell (15-10, 6.28) in 1938 for the Senators and Yankees, and Guy Bush (15-10, 6.20) in 1930 for the Cubs.

"Physically, obviously, I feel fine," Marquis said. "Mechanically, I've got some problems. I've been battling mechanical problems all year."

By the time Marquis had thrown 13 pitches, the Astros had the bases loaded with none out in the first on singles by Taveras and Morgan Ensberg and a walk to Berkman. Scott walked on five pitches to force in a run, Burke followed with a two-run single, and Bruntlett hit an RBI single.

Notes

  • The Cardinals fell to a major league best 35-18 in day games.
  • Marquis is 7-4 against Houston. He's beaten the Astros more than any other team.
  • Oswalt's 49-16 career record after the All-Star break leads active pitchers.
  • Berkman is two homers shy of his career best of 42 in 2002.
  • The Astros left 14 runners on base.
  • A sellout crowd of 40,359 pushed the Cardinals above 3 million for the 10th in franchise history and eighth time in nine years. This is their first year at the new Busch Stadium.
 
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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Willy Taveras knocks in a single in the fourth, one of three hits on the day against St. Louis.  (AP)
Willy Taveras knocks in a single in the fourth, one of three hits on the day against St. Louis. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

R. Oswalt
IP 8.1
H 7
ER 1
BB 2
K 3
Houston

L. Berkman
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF6130002 .278
Morgan Ensberg, 3B4110101 .229
Lance Berkman, 1B4231102 .310
Aubrey Huff, RF4000126 .264
    Charlton Jimerson, PR-RF0000000 .333
Luke Scott, LF4121124 .379
Chris Burke, 2B5022004 .286
Eric Bruntlett, SS5011001 .255
Brad Ausmus, C4010112 .227
Roy Oswalt, P5010016 .161
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
Totals4151455628 
Batting
2B - Lance Berkman (25, Narveson)
HR - Lance Berkman (40, Hancock)
RBI - Lance Berkman (121), Luke Scott (20), Chris Burke 2 (40), Eric Bruntlett (10)
2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman (35)
SB - Willy Taveras 2 (32, 2nd base off Marquis/Bennett, 2nd base off Thompson/Bennett), Eric Bruntlett (3, 2nd base off Marquis/Bennett)
Team LOB - 14
Fielding
DP - Ensberg-Burke-Berkman
E - Willy Taveras (5, )
Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt (W,13-8) 8.1711230 3.06
Trever Miller (H,9) 0.1000000 3.25
Dan Wheeler (S,5) 0.1000010 2.51
Pitches-Strikes - Roy Oswalt 110-82, Trever Miller 2-1, Dan Wheeler 6-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Oswalt 11-11
Batters Faced - Roy Oswalt 34, Trever Miller 1, Dan Wheeler 1
St. Louis Cardinals
Aaron Miles, SS3000000 .263
    Chris Narveson, P0000000 .000
   a- Skip Schumaker, PH-RF1010000 .196
Chris Duncan, RF3010101 .301
    Jorge Sosa, P0000000 .130
Albert Pujols, 1B3000103 .321
Scott Spiezio, LF4010011 .267
Scott Rolen, 3B4110002 .299
Juan Encarnacion, CF4010010 .287
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4021000 .275
Gary Bennett, C3000001 .238
   b- John Rodriguez, PH0000000 .301
   c- So Taguchi, PH1000002 .265
Jason Marquis, P0000000 .184
    Brad Thompson, P0000000 .500
   d- John Nelson, PH1000010 .000
    Josh Kinney, P0000000 .000
   e- Mike Rose, PH1000000 .167
    Josh Hancock, P0000000 .000
    Jose Vizcaino, SS1000001 .216
   f- Preston Wilson, PH1000012 .261
Totals341712413 
a-singled for Narveson in the 8th
b-announced for Bennett in the 9th
c-flied out for Rodriguez in the 9th
d-struck out for Thompson in the 3rd
e-popped out for Kinney in the 5th
f-struck out for Vizcaino in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chris Duncan (11, Oswalt)
RBI - Ronnie Belliard (59)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Miles-Pujols, Miles-Belliard-Pujols
E - Chris Duncan (5, ), Josh Hancock (1, )
St. Louis Cardinals
Jason Marquis (L,14-15) 1544220 5.82
Brad Thompson 2200200 3.94
Josh Kinney 2300020 4.96
Josh Hancock 1211001 3.82
Chris Narveson 2100120 4.50
Jorge Sosa 1100000 5.63
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Marquis 52-27, Brad Thompson 30-17, Josh Kinney 32-21, Josh Hancock 17-10, Chris Narveson 33-20, Jorge Sosa 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Marquis 1-0, Brad Thompson 3-1, Josh Kinney 2-2, Josh Hancock 2-2, Jorge Sosa 1-2
Batters Faced - Jason Marquis 10, Brad Thompson 8, Josh Kinney 9, Josh Hancock 6, Chris Narveson 9, Jorge Sosa 4
Game Information
Attendance - 40459
Game Time - 2:57
Temperature - 64
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Laz Diaz, Second Base - Rick Reed, Third Base - Tim Tschida