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St. Louis at Houston

Scoreboard
St. Louis (64-65)000000000061
Houston (59-74) «12100012x7130

Oswalt strong as Astros shut out Cards for Cooper's first managerial win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- The St. Louis Cardinals were just starting to feel good about their playoff chances. Then they ran into Roy Oswalt.

The Houston ace allowed four hits and struck out nine in seven dominant innings and the Astros beat the Cardinals 7-0 on Wednesday night, giving Cecil Cooper his first win as manager.

Lance Berkman and Luke Scott hit solo homers, Berkman added an RBI double off St. Louis starter Kip Wells and Houston won for just the third time in nine games.

Oswalt (14-6), who turned 30 on Wednesday, also had an RBI single and won for the sixth time in seven starts. He came into the game with a 1.18 ERA in his last six outings and showed no ill effects from a strained oblique muscle that forced him to miss a start last Thursday.

"I was a little worried going into the game," said Oswalt, who threw 99 pitches. "I took it easy the first few innings. After the fourth inning, I let it go."

Cooper took over the Astros after Phil Garner was fired on Monday. Houston lost 7-0 in his debut on Tuesday, but thanks to Oswalt, his second game went much smoother.

"My job was pretty easy tonight," said Cooper. "I had the best pitcher on the planet. Any time Roy takes the mound, you've got a great chance to win."

Houston catcher Brad Ausmus gave Cooper the game ball, a keepsake Cooper will cherish.

"I will save it," he said. "It's pretty special."

The Cardinals, who remained two games back in the NL Central, lost for the third time in nine games after getting back to .500 for the first time since April 16 on Tuesday. Manager Tony La Russa was ejected in the ninth by plate umpire Tim Tschida in the ninth for arguing balls and strikes.

The rest of the Cardinals were just as frustrated by Oswalt, who's won seven of his last eight starts against St. Louis. He struck out four of the last six hitters he faced and allowed only one baserunner to reach second.

"He had good stuff," said Rick Ankiel, who had two of the Cardinals' six hits. "It was just electric. You just hope he makes a mistake."

Wells (6-15) lost his second straight decision and gave up two homers for the second time in three starts. He allowed five runs and nine hits with two strikeouts in six innings.

He trailed 4-0 after three innings, then shut down the Astros over the next three before allowing another run in the seventh.

But the Cardinals couldn't help Wells with their bats.

Aaron Miles doubled with two outs in the third, but Oswalt got David Eckstein to ground out. The Cardinals mustered only two more hits off Oswalt after that, a single by Albert Pujols in the fourth and an infield dribbler by Wells in the fifth.

"He was really sharp," La Russa said. "He never gave us anything to hit all night long. He was just outstanding."

Oswalt noticed the Cardinals trying to extend their at-bats by taking pitches, but he just kept throwing strikes. Only 29 of his pitches were balls.

"I was able to get ahead of a lot of hitters," he said. "With the Cardinals, you can't let them start anything."

Cooper, meanwhile, succeeded in kick-starting Houston's offense with some lineup changes. He moved Hunter Pence to the top spot in the batting order on Wednesday and dropped usual leadoff man Craig Biggio to No. 2.

Pence singled in his first at-bat, but was forced out on Biggio's grounder back to Wells. Biggio beat out the relay throw to avoid the double play, then scored on Berkman's double off the right-field wall.

Leading off the Houston second, Scott drove a 1-2 pitch just inside the right-field foul pole to make it 2-0. One out later, Brad Ausmus lined a 3-2 pitch to the gap in left center, his second triple of the season. Oswalt followed with a single to right, his second RBI of the season.

Berkman led off the Houston third with a solo homer to right, his 25th of the season and 22nd batting left-handed. After a mediocre first four months, the four-time All-Star is hitting .418 with five homers and 13 RBI since Aug. 11.

Biggio led off the Astros' seventh with a double into the left-field corner. Biggio's 3,042nd career hit was his 665th double, tying him with George Brett for fifth all-time.

Tyler Johnson relieved Wells, but Biggio scored on Carlos Lee's single to make it 5-0.

Pence had a bases-loaded, RBI single in the eighth off Randy Flores. Pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett grounded into a fielder's choice, but another run scored to make it 7-0.

Notes

  • Biggio has more doubles than any right-handed batter in history.
  • Berkman hit his 250th career homer and became the ninth switch hitter to reach the milestone.
  • The Cardinals were shut out for the 11th time this season.
  • Pujols has reached base in 69 of his last 75 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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Roy Oswalt not only shuts out the Cardinals for seven innings, he does some damage with the bat too.  (AP)
Roy Oswalt not only shuts out the Cardinals for seven innings, he does some damage with the bat too. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

R. Oswalt
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 0
K 9
Houston

L. Berkman
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4000012 .290
Rick Ankiel, RF-CF4020010 .321
Albert Pujols, 1B4010002 .321
Jim Edmonds, CF3000021 .252
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
   a- So Taguchi, PH1000001 .294
Chris Duncan, LF4000032 .270
Yadier Molina, C3000010 .279
    Gary Bennett, C0000000 .230
Brendan Ryan, 3B3000010 .317
Kip Wells, P2010010 .340
    Tyler Johnson, P0000000 .000
   b- Ryan Ludwick, PH-RF1000000 .249
Aaron Miles, 2B3020011 .301
Totals32060011  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Flores in the 9th
b-grounded out for Johnson in the 8th
Batting
2B - Aaron Miles (14, Oswalt)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Ryan-Pujols, Eckstein-Miles-Pujols, Ryan-Miles-Pujols
E - Brendan Ryan (6, Misplayed grounder)
St. Louis Cardinals
Kip Wells (L,6-15) 6955232 5.50
Tyler Johnson 1200000 4.20
Randy Flores 1222200 4.87
WP - Kip Wells (8), Tyler Johnson (2), Randy Flores (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Kip Wells 109-70, Tyler Johnson 10-9, Randy Flores 18-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kip Wells 10-5, Tyler Johnson 2-0, Randy Flores 2-0
Batters Faced - Kip Wells 29, Tyler Johnson 4, Randy Flores 6
Houston Astros
Hunter Pence, CF4021111 .323
Craig Biggio, 2B4210003 .252
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
   a- Eric Bruntlett, PH1001000 .244
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
Lance Berkman, 1B5132002 .278
Carlos Lee, LF4021001 .306
Mark Loretta, SS4010003 .279
Luke Scott, RF3111102 .255
Ty Wigginton, 3B4110013 .274
Brad Ausmus, C3210102 .232
Roy Oswalt, P3011010 .145
    Chris Burke, 2B0000100 .225
Totals35713743  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Qualls in the 8th
Batting
2B - Craig Biggio (28, Wells), Lance Berkman (17, Wells), Mark Loretta (21, Wells)
3B - Brad Ausmus (2, Wells)
HR - Lance Berkman (25, Wells), Luke Scott (15, Wells)
RBI - Hunter Pence (47), Eric Bruntlett (12), Lance Berkman 2 (84), Carlos Lee (103), Luke Scott (57), Roy Oswalt (2)
SB - Lance Berkman (6, 3rd base off Wells/Molina)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Biggio-Loretta-Berkman
Houston Astros
Roy Oswalt (W,14-6) 7400090 3.21
Chad Qualls 1100010 2.97
Trever Miller 1100010 4.99
Pitches-Strikes - Roy Oswalt 100-70, Chad Qualls 11-7, Trever Miller 13-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Roy Oswalt 9-2, Chad Qualls 2-0, Trever Miller 1-1
Batters Faced - Roy Oswalt 24, Chad Qualls 4, Trever Miller 4
Game Information
Attendance - 33422
Game Time - 2:43
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Tim Tschida, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - James Hoye