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Houston at St. Louis

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Houston (30-23) «4010300008120
St. Louis (30-23)000110000281

Astros 8, Cardinals 2

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- Nine starts into the season, Shawn Chacon had no victories or losses. Suddenly, he's on a roll.

Chacon won his second successive start after nine no-decisions to open the year and Hunter Pence had a career-best five hits in the Houston Astros' 8-2 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

"He's pitched well for the most part all year," manager Cecil Cooper said. "He just had one, I thought, shaky outing about three starts ago but other than that he's kept us in every ballgame and given us a chance."

Chacon (2-0) worked seven strong innings, helping the Astros win for the fifth time in seven games in the opener of a nine-game trip. Chacon, perhaps the team's most consistent starter so far with a 3.95 ERA and eight quality starts, broke a major league record set in 1965 for consecutive no-decisions to open the season before beating the Cubs also with seven strong innings on May 21.

The Astros are 6-5 in Chacon's starts. The right-hander insisted the drought had not bothered him.

"Not at all. We were playing good baseball the majority of the games I pitched in and we won, I think, more than we lost," he said. "In the big picture, that's all that matters."

Pence was 5-for-5 with four singles and a double, including an RBI infield hit in a four-run first off Braden Looper (6-4) and an RBI single in the third. He has four career four-hit games, one against the Cardinals that he claims not to remember.

"Once it's over with I try to move on to the next day," Pence said. "Today was just one of those days where the ball found holes. I hit some ground balls right where they weren't standing, and sometimes you're going to have a game like I had."

Miguel Tejada hit a two-run homer, Kaz Matsui had three hits and Lance Berkman walked twice, singled and scored three times to give him a for a major-league best 56 runs. Berkman set a franchise record with 30 runs this month, breaking the previous mark of 27 by Jimmy Wynn in 1969.

Albert Pujols was 4-for-4 with his 12th home run and pinch hitter Brian Barton hit the first of his career for the Cardinals, who opened a seven-game homestand with a dud. Pujols is 12-for-24 with four home runs and seven RBI this year against Houston.

The long balls were the only damage against Chacon, who allowed two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. Chacon walked 10 batters in 13 innings his first two starts against St. Louis this season, a 5-3 loss on April 8 and a 3-2 victory on April 25.

"I think they were probably expecting me to do something like that again," Chacon said. "I noticed they took a lot of fastballs and maybe that might be a case of them expecting to be not around the zone."

He also earned his first career decision against St. Louis in 13 games, including six starts.

Looper lasted only 4 1/3 innings and gave up eight runs, seven earned, on nine hits against the same team he blanked for seven innings of two-hit ball on April 25. Looper, who entered the game 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA against Houston, was in trouble from the get-go with five of the first batters reaching safely in a four-run first.

"I didn't give us a chance from the beginning," Looper said. "Guys hadn't even had a chance to hit yet and it's 4-0, so it's frustrating."

Shaky defense didn't help in the first, with center fielder Rick Ankiel making an ill-advised throw to third on speedy Michael Bourn trying for third on a flyout, then airmailing one high off the screen behind the backstop trying to throw out a runner at the plate on Carlos Lee's two-run single. Ankiel was charged with an error on the second throw.

Manager Tony La Russa said Ankiel's strong no-hop throw to third would have caught any runner besides Bourn, who leads the major leagues with 23 steals. On the second, throw, La Russa said the ball just got away.

"He's been aggressive, we like his aggressiveness," La Russa said. "It's something that makes no sense when you call him on it."

Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo also had a tough night, sending Ankiel into an easy tag play at the plate in the fourth on Troy Glaus' line-drive one-hop single to Pence in right field.

"I think Pence is a very good-looking player but throwing is not his biggest asset," La Russa said. "It was a good time to push and he made a great throw."

Notes

The Cardinals' Yadier Molina is the second-hardest batter to strike out, with only nine in 157 at-bats, but fanned three times in four trips after taking a called third strike to end the second. ... The Astros have scored 45 runs in the first inning, by far their best and the third-best total in the majors before their four-run start. ... Pence has 21 RBI in 23 games this month. ... Tejada has an 11-game hitting streak and leads major league shortstops with 37 RBI. ... Adam Kennedy struck out three times in four at-bats and is in a 1-for-17 slump. ... The Astros designated RHP Dave Borkowski, 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA, for assignment to make room for Wandy Rodriguez, who'll be activated from the DL and start on Wednesday.

 
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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Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 4
R 1
H 4
HR 1
RBI 1
Houston

H. Pence
AB 5
R 0
H 5
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF5110003 .216
Kazuo Matsui, 2B5230000 .277
Miguel Tejada, SS5112011 .332
Lance Berkman, 1B3310201 .384
Carlos Lee, LF4112001 .275
   a- Jose Cruz Jr., PH-LF1000010 .119
Hunter Pence, RF5052000 .311
Ty Wigginton, 3B4001103 .267
J.R. Towles, C2001201 .147
Shawn Chacon, P4000027 .136
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .333
    Oscar Villarreal, P0000000 .000
Totals38812854  
a-struck out for Lee in the 9th
Batting
2B - Hunter Pence (12, Looper)
HR - Miguel Tejada (6, Looper)
RBI - Miguel Tejada 2 (37), Carlos Lee 2 (45), Hunter Pence 2 (31), Ty Wigginton (7), J.R. Towles (13)
2-OUT RBI - Hunter Pence (8)
PK - J.R. Towles (1, Looper)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Hunter Pence 1
Houston Astros
Shawn Chacon (W,2-0) 7722072 3.95
Tim Byrdak 1100000 0.00
Oscar Villarreal 1000010 5.13
WP - Shawn Chacon (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Shawn Chacon 102-61, Tim Byrdak 16-9, Oscar Villarreal 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Shawn Chacon 5-8, Tim Byrdak 2-1, Oscar Villarreal 1-1
Batters Faced - Shawn Chacon 27, Tim Byrdak 4, Oscar Villarreal 3
St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, RF4000011 .286
Chris Duncan, LF3000021 .252
    Mike Parisi, P0000000 .000
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
   a- Brendan Ryan, PH1000000 .288
    Kyle McClellan, P0000000 .000
Albert Pujols, 1B4141000 .360
Rick Ankiel, CF4010003 .285
Troy Glaus, 3B4010001 .270
Adam Kennedy, 2B4000032 .242
Yadier Molina, C4000010 .280
Braden Looper, P1000000 .368
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
   b- Brian Barton, PH-LF2111010 .253
Cesar Izturis, SS3010000 .265
Totals3428208  
a-grounded out for Flores in the 8th
b-homered for Springer in the 5th
Batting
2B - Albert Pujols (13, Byrdak), Rick Ankiel (11, Chacon)
HR - Albert Pujols (12, Chacon), Brian Barton (1, Chacon)
RBI - Albert Pujols (34), Brian Barton (6)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Rick Ankiel (2, Throwing)
St. Louis Cardinals
Braden Looper (L,6-4) 4.1987311 5.05
Russ Springer 0.2000110 3.65
Mike Parisi 2100100 2.87
Randy Flores 1100010 3.14
Kyle McClellan 1100010 2.42
IBB - Wigginton by Braden Looper
HBP - Towles (by Braden Looper)
Pitches-Strikes - Braden Looper 102-56, Russ Springer 15-7, Mike Parisi 34-19, Randy Flores 11-9, Kyle McClellan 8-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Braden Looper 4-7, Russ Springer 1-0, Mike Parisi 2-4, Kyle McClellan 1-1
Batters Faced - Braden Looper 25, Russ Springer 3, Mike Parisi 8, Randy Flores 4, Kyle McClellan 4
Game Information
Attendance - 41104
Game Time - 2:36
Temperature - 57
Umpires - Home - Bill Miller, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Jerry Meals