St. Louis at Houston

Scoreboard
St. Louis002120000550
Houston «00022002x692

Berkman jacks two homers for Houston, deny Carpenter, St. Louis win

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

HOUSTON -- Don't count the defending NL champions out of the playoff picture just yet.

Lance Berkman hit a pair of two-run homers off Chris Carpenter and the Houston Astros beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 Thursday night.

The Astros remained 5½ games back in the wild-card race. They've won three of their last four and after the game, manager Phil Garner said Roger Clemens will start the regular-season home finale against St. Louis on Sunday.

"I guess we can pull out all the stops now," Berkman said.

The switch-hitting first baseman tied a career high with his 42nd homer in the fifth, then set a new mark with a go-ahead two-run drive into the Astros' bullpen in the eighth.

"These games are fun," Berkman said. "If we can keep that glimmer of hope alive, you love to play in games like this."

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa admitted he erred by not ordering Carpenter to walk Berkman in the decisive at-bat.

"I kick myself for that eighth inning," La Russa said. "I blame myself for that. He (Carpenter) pitched well."

Carpenter (15-7) lost for the first time in nine starts. The Cardinals' magic number for clinching the NL Central remains at five.

"When you have one of the best pitchers in the game, and you score five runs, sometimes you say it's enough," St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols said. "Obviously, it wasn't."

Dave Borkowski (2-2) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Andy Pettitte and Dan Wheeler shut out the Cardinals in the ninth to earn his seventh save in nine chances.

Berkman's homers bailed out the sloppy Astros, who committed two errors and gave up four unearned runs.

Carpenter and former Astro Preston Wilson led off the third with line-drive singles off Pettitte. The Astros released Wilson in mid-August and the Cardinals signed him the next day.

Pettitte fielded a weak grounder by Scott Spiezio and threw to second baseman Craig Biggio trying to start a double play. But Biggio mishandled the throw and the ball skipped into center as Carpenter scored.

Pujols grounded to Biggio and the Astros got a double play this time, but Wilson came home for a 2-0 lead.

Pettitte was called for a balk after Ronnie Belliard's one-out double in the fourth. Pettitte threw to first, appealing to first base umpire Angel Hernandez that Belliard had missed the bag. The appeal was denied and Hernandez ruled that Pettitte had thrown over without first touching the rubber.

Pettitte then threw a wild pitch with a 3-2 count on Yadier Molina and Belliard scored.

Carpenter retired eight in a row after Mike Lamb 's single in the first inning. Lamb singled again with one out in the fourth.

Berkman followed with a towering shot off the brick facade in left field, his 37th homer this season batting left-handed.

"Obviously, Lance had a nice night," Carpenter said. "I made some mistakes and he hit them hard."

Lamb, Houston's third baseman, bobbled a grounder by Wilson for another error in the fifth. Spiezio singled before Pujols singled off the right-field wall to drive in Wilson.

Juan Encarnacion grounded out before Pettitte intentionally walked Scott Rolen. Belliard then hit a sharp grounder to Lamb, who tagged out Pujols but couldn't get Belliard at first. Spiezio scored for a 5-2 lead.

Chris Burke doubled and Adam Everett singled in the Astros' fifth to spark another rally. Brad Ausmus put down a sacrifice bunt before Orlando Palmiero, hitting for Pettitte, lined a two-run single to center.

Pettitte struck out two and walked four in five innings. He allowed only one earned run, on the wild pitch.

"It was a struggle," Pettitte said. "I walked a few guys, made a few errors and made it tougher than I should've. But to be able to come back and win this game, that was huge."

Pettitte was making his first start since Sept. 12 in St. Louis, when he left with a strained muscle in his elbow. He was scheduled to start on Tuesday, but got it pushed back so he could be with his father, who underwent a heart procedure.

"I felt rusty," he said. "I didn't feel really good, but I kind of expected that."

Pinch-hitter Morgan Ensberg led off the eighth with a single. Biggio bunted and Lamb struck out before Berkman crushed a 3-2 pitch over the fence in right-center.

"I knew there was a chance he'd throw the kitchen sink up there," Berkman said. "He threw a cutter that he was trying to come inside with and it stayed a little over the middle."

Notes

  • Berkman recorded his sixth multihomer game of the season.
  • The Astros' two errors boosted their NL-low total to 73.
  • Biggio has 637 career doubles, three behind Honus Wagner for eighth on the career list.
  • The Cardinals have lost six of their last seven road games.
 
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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Lance Berkman, who sets a career high, receives props after hitting the first of his two homers.  (AP)
Lance Berkman, who sets a career high, receives props after hitting the first of his two homers. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

L. Berkman
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 2
RBI 4
St. Louis

R. Belliard
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
Preston Wilson, RF4210010 .259
   a- Chris Duncan, PH1000010 .302
Scott Spiezio, LF3110100 .263
Albert Pujols, 1B3011100 .328
Juan Encarnacion, CF4000022 .281
Scott Rolen, 3B3000102 .300
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4111000 .275
Yadier Molina, C3000102 .218
Aaron Miles, SS3000000 .269
Chris Carpenter, P3110011 .132
   b- John Rodriguez, PH1000000 .302
Totals32552457 
a-struck out for Pr. Wilson in the 9th
b-grounded out for Carpenter in the 9th
Batting
2B - Ronnie Belliard (28, Pettitte)
SH - Aaron Miles (2)
RBI - Albert Pujols (129), Ronnie Belliard (61)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Miles-Pujols, Carpenter-Miles-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter (L,15-7) 8966052 2.93
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 106-71
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 11-6
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 31
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B3000011 .242
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
Mike Lamb, 3B4120011 .305
Lance Berkman, 1B4234001 .315
Luke Scott, LF4000001 .374
Aubrey Huff, RF3000011 .259
    Eric Bruntlett, 2B0000000 .264
Chris Burke, CF3110010 .282
Adam Everett, SS3110010 .239
Brad Ausmus, C2000000 .231
Andy Pettitte, P1000000 .214
   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1012000 .231
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
   b- Morgan Ensberg, PH1010000 .230
    Charlton Jimerson, PR-RF0100000 .250
Totals29696055 
a-singled for Pettitte in the 5th
b-singled for Borkowski in the 8th
Batting
2B - Lance Berkman (28, Carpenter), Chris Burke (22, Carpenter)
HR - Lance Berkman 2 (43, Carpenter, Carpenter)
SH - Craig Biggio (4), Brad Ausmus (9)
RBI - Lance Berkman 4 (126), Orlando Palmeiro 2 (13)
2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman 2 (38)
Team LOB - 1
Fielding
DP - Biggio-Everett-Berkman
E - Craig Biggio (6, ), Mike Lamb (9, )
Houston Astros
Andy Pettitte 5551420 4.31
Dave Borkowski (W,2-2) 3000020 4.33
Dan Wheeler (S,7) 1000010 2.49
IBB - Rolen by Andy Pettitte
WP - Andy Pettitte (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 84-59, Dave Borkowski 33-23, Dan Wheeler 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 11-3, Dave Borkowski 5-2, Dan Wheeler 2-0
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 25, Dave Borkowski 9, Dan Wheeler 3
Game Information
Attendance - 32975
Game Time - 2:17
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - Hunter Wendelstedt