St. Louis at Houston

Scoreboard
St. Louis (36-27)000000010142
Houston (32-30) «00230001x6110

Astros 6, Cardinals 1

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Thanks to Brian Moehler and mistakes by the St. Louis Cardinals' defense, the Houston Astros didn't have to do much offensively Friday night.

Moehler pitched his best game of the season and the Astros scored three runs on two St. Louis errors in their 6-1 victory over the Cardinals.

Moehler (3-2) allowed two hits and struck out five in seven innings, his longest outing of the year. He set down the Cardinals in order four times and retired the last eight batters he faced.

His strategy was simple: throw strikes early in counts and let the Cardinals hit him.

"I haven't changed the way I've pitched since day one of my career," said the 36-year-old Moehler. "I've always been a control guy, for the most part, throwing strikes. Let our defense make the plays. I'm not going to go out there and strike out 10 guys."

Hunter Pence had an RBI double and Geoff Blum added a solo homer as the Astros scored more than three runs for the first time in nine games.

Houston manager Cecil Cooper shook up his lineup after the Astros lost seven of eight. He benched four regulars and had Pence in the leadoff spot instead of Michael Bourn.

It worked. Besides Blum's homer, Darin Erstad doubled and scored and Mark Loretta went 4-for-4.

"It serves two purposes," Loretta said. "You try to get a couple of guys a little bit of rest who've been grinding and then you get some of the reserve guys swinging the bats. Sometimes, it works out."

Braden Looper (7-5), facing the Astros for the fourth time this season, matched a career high with seven strikeouts and gave up two earned runs and eight hits in six innings.

The Cardinals' defense broke down in the fourth as the Astros stretched the lead to 5-0.

Erstad led off with a double and Looper hit Lance Berkman in the foot with a pitch. Carlos Lee hit a bouncer to Cesar Izturis and the shortstop slipped as he made his move to field it. He still tried to start a double play, but his errant throw to Adam Kennedy sailed into foul territory down the right-field line. Erstad and Berkman scored and Lee reached third on Izturis' error.

Blum then hit a grounder to first baseman Albert Pujols, who threw home to get Lee, but Yadier Molina dropped the ball and Lee scored. Molina was charged with an error.

The Cardinals played a doubleheader in Washington on Thursday and arrived at their hotel in Houston well after midnight. But St. Louis manager Tony La Russa didn't blame the mistakes on fatigue.

"It didn't have anything to do with the long day," La Russa said. "That's just baseball. We were ready to play."

Loretta blooped a single to right leading off the Houston third. He was forced on Humberto Quintero's grounder, but Quintero scored on Pence's two-out double off the right-field wall. Pence then scored on Kaz Matsui's single to center. Matsui was caught in a rundown after Pence crossed the plate.

Moehler allowed only one walk in the first three innings. Skip Schumaker started the fourth with a single, but Moehler retired the next three batters.

"Moehler was the story," La Russa said. "We couldn't do anything with him."

The Cardinals were second in the NL with a .987 fielding percentage coming into the game and had committed only 32 errors all season.

"They usually capitalize on everybody else's (mistakes)," Loretta said. "We probably caught them on a pretty good night. They were coming off a doubleheader and got in late. That's a good team. We'll take this one."

Moehler threw only 78 pitches in the first six innings. Pence made a running catch on Pujols' soft liner to right to end the sixth and Moehler retired the Cardinals in order in the seventh.

Moehler lobbied to pitch the eighth, but Cooper decided to take him out. Geoff Geary relieved in the eighth and gave up an RBI single to Schumaker.

Blum homered to right in the eighth off Mitchell Boggs, who was making his major league debut. Boggs was called up from Triple-A Memphis on Thursday night.

Jose Valverde struck out the side in the ninth for Houston.

Notes

Pence has 31 RBI since April 18. ... Pujols went 0-for-4. He was bothered by a strained left calf earlier this week. ... OF Rick Ankiel was getting examined by doctors in St. Louis for an infection in his right knee. Ankiel has missed the Cardinals' last four games. RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who pitched six innings in the Cards' 4-1 win over Washington on Thursday, was back in St. Louis because of inflammation in his right elbow.

 
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
Houston

B. Moehler
IP 7.0
H 2
ER 0
BB 2
K 5
Houston

G. Blum
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, CF4021000 .299
Joe Mather, RF4000032 .241
Albert Pujols, 1B4000020 .357
Ryan Ludwick, LF4000021 .306
Troy Glaus, 3B3000010 .261
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
   a- Brian Barton, PH1000010 .240
Yadier Molina, C2000100 .297
Adam Kennedy, 2B2120100 .255
Braden Looper, P1000001 .409
    Aaron Miles, 3B1000000 .315
Cesar Izturis, SS3000003 .253
Totals2914129  
a-struck out for Boggs in the 9th
Batting
SH - Braden Looper (5)
RBI - Skip Schumaker (20)
2-OUT RBI - Skip Schumaker (8)
SB - Skip Schumaker (5, 2nd base off Moehler/Quintero)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Skip Schumaker 1
DP - Izturis-Kennedy-Pujols, Kennedy-Izturis-Pujols
E - Cesar Izturis (5, Throwing), Yadier Molina (6, Missed catch of throw)
St. Louis Cardinals
Braden Looper (L,7-5) 6852070 4.86
Mitchell Boggs 2311001 4.50
HBP - Berkman (by Braden Looper)
Pitches-Strikes - Braden Looper 107-68, Mitchell Boggs 27-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Braden Looper 5-7, Mitchell Boggs 3-1
Batters Faced - Braden Looper 28, Mitchell Boggs 7
Houston Astros
Hunter Pence, RF4111005 .293
Kazuo Matsui, 2B4021010 .276
Darin Erstad, CF-LF4110011 .304
Lance Berkman, 1B3100000 .377
Carlos Lee, LF4100010 .255
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Geoff Blum, 3B4121000 .250
Mark Loretta, SS4040000 .286
Humberto Quintero, C4110014 .375
Brian Moehler, P3000036 .000
    Geoff Geary, P0000000 .000
    Michael Bourn, CF0000000 .214
Totals34611307  
Batting
2B - Hunter Pence (15, Looper), Darin Erstad (9, Looper)
HR - Geoff Blum (4, Boggs)
RBI - Hunter Pence (33), Kazuo Matsui (13), Geoff Blum (15)
2-OUT RBI - Hunter Pence (9), Kazuo Matsui (6)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Matsui-Loretta-Berkman
Houston Astros
Brian Moehler (W,3-2) 7200250 3.76
Geoff Geary 1211010 1.77
Jose Valverde 1000030 3.60
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Moehler 93-59, Geoff Geary 18-13, Jose Valverde 14-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Moehler 8-7, Geoff Geary 2-0
Batters Faced - Brian Moehler 24, Geoff Geary 5, Jose Valverde 3
Game Information
Attendance - 38596
Game Time - 2:32
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Chris Guccione, Second Base - Tim Welke, Third Base - Chuck Meriwether