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Houston at St. Louis

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Houston (62-65) «020000011491
St. Louis (74-55)010002000380

Astros escape sweep in St. Louis thanks to Keppinger's clutch HR

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- One big swing from Jeff Keppinger, hardly a long-ball threat, eased the Houston Astros' frustrations after getting worked over by St. Louis Cardinals pitchers.

Keppinger hit a tiebreaking home run with two outs in the ninth inning and Houston rallied to beat the Cardinals 4-3 on Thursday, avoiding a three-game sweep.

Keppinger's shot to left on a 2-2 pitch from Kyle McClellan (4-3) was his fourth of the season and first since June 19. He has only 17 home runs in 1,116 career at-bats, so he was running when the drive barely cleared the wall.

"It was kind of nice to see the outcome," Keppinger said. "You ever look up at the scoreboard and see my totals?"

Jose Valverde (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the Astros, who scored all four runs with two outs and won for only the fifth time in their past 19 road games. They avoided a second three-game sweep in St. Louis this season by taking the final game of a series that featured only 13 runs in three one-run contests.

The Astros rallied a day after Roy Oswalt complained of a "dead" team atmosphere. The Cardinals won the first two games 1-0 and 3-2.

"This was real big," Keppinger said. "You don't give up just because you're 10 games or 11 games back. You know, you play it all the way out to the end."

Matt Holliday hit a home run for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who lost for only the fourth time in 19 games. St. Louis, which had won four straight overall, went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and missed chances to score in each of the last three innings.

"We all want to come in here and high five and play music and have fun," Brendan Ryan said. "But we can't do that."

The Astros tied it on Darin Erstad's RBI double off McClellan in the eighth, spoiling Chris Carpenter's bid for his 15th win. Keppinger's first home run in 116 at-bats barely cleared the left-field wall. Holliday made a try for it but the ball appeared to sneak under his outstretched glove.

"It was close," Holliday said. "I felt I had a chance at it and timed it pretty well. Those are hit-or-miss plays."

Ryan Ludwick's two-run single off Brian Moehler in the sixth, only his third hit in 17 at-bats against the right-hander, put the Cardinals ahead 3-2. Holliday's 18th home run came in the second and was his seventh in 31 games with St. Louis.

Rescued by Erstad's hit, Moehler remained 5-0 against the Cardinals over 10 starts. He's one of only five pitchers and the only active one with 60 or more innings and no losses against St. Louis.

"We didn't roll over," Moehler said. "We battled."

Kaz Matsui and Michael Bourn each drove in a run in the second for the Astros. Matsui doubled in Carlos Lee before Carpenter set up Bourn's RBI single with back-to-back walks to eighth-place hitter Chris Coste and Moehler.

Carpenter finished the third with strikeouts of Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee, the third- and fourth-toughest batters to fan in the NL, and the Astros had two hits in his final four innings. He allowed five hits total before leaving after the sixth.

Carpenter missed a chance to join teammate Adam Wainwright and the Yankees' CC Sabathia as the majors' only 15-game winners, although he still leads the majors with a 2.20 ERA. Carpenter, 9-0 in his past 10 starts, said he probably was too pumped up for this start.

"I was definitely excited, for some reason," he said. "I was going hard. I definitely could have slowed down a little bit."

Moehler allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for Houston.

Notes

  • Astros INF Geoff Blum, scratched from the lineup Wednesday due to a shoulder spasm, returned to Houston to be examined.
  • Khalil Greene hasn't had an at-bat since Aug. 20. He was announced as a pinch hitter in the seventh then replaced by Rick Ankiel after the Astros changed relievers.
  • The Cardinals were 4 for 27 with runners in scoring position in the series.
  • Bourn has reached base in 20 consecutive games.
  • Albert Pujols drew his major league-leading 37th intentional walk in the sixth two at-bats before Ludwick's two-run single.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Matt Holliday leaps but can't reach Jeff Keppinger's game-deciding home run in the ninth.  (US Presswire)
Matt Holliday leaps but can't reach Jeff Keppinger's game-deciding home run in the ninth. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Houston

K. Matsui
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
St. Louis

M. Holliday
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF5011013 .291
Jeff Keppinger, 3B5111004 .263
Lance Berkman, 1B5000000 .277
Carlos Lee, LF4110020 .312
Miguel Tejada, SS4110011 .305
Darin Erstad, RF4011001 .216
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Kazuo Matsui, 2B3121100 .242
Chris Coste, C3020102 .234
Brian Moehler, P0000100 .029
   a- Edwin Maysonet, PH0000000 .321
    Sammy Gervacio, P0000000 .000
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
    Jeff Fulchino, P0000000 .333
    Hunter Pence, RF1000000 .278
Totals3449434  
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Moehler in the 7th
Batting
2B - Darin Erstad (8, McClellan), Kazuo Matsui (15, Carpenter)
HR - Jeff Keppinger (4, McClellan)
SH - Brian Moehler (3), Edwin Maysonet (3)
RBI - Michael Bourn (31), Jeff Keppinger (22), Darin Erstad (11), Kazuo Matsui (31)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Bourn (15), Jeff Keppinger (9), Darin Erstad (4), Kazuo Matsui (11)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Moehler-Matsui-Berkman
E - Miguel Tejada (17, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Brian Moehler 6633111 5.26
Sammy Gervacio 0.1100000 1.23
Tim Byrdak 0.1000000 3.06
Jeff Fulchino 0.1000010 3.61
Jose Valverde (W,2-2) 2100120 2.20
IBB - Pujols by Brian Moehler
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Moehler 76-50, Sammy Gervacio 15-11, Tim Byrdak 3-2, Jeff Fulchino 4-3, Jose Valverde 22-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Moehler 9-7, Sammy Gervacio 2-0, Jose Valverde 3-1
Batters Faced - Brian Moehler 24, Sammy Gervacio 3, Tim Byrdak 1, Jeff Fulchino 1, Jose Valverde 8
St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, 2B5010003 .293
Julio Lugo, SS3120001 .293
    Blake Hawksworth, P0000000 .000
   a- Khalil Greene, PH0000000 .209
   b- Rick Ankiel, PH1000012 .230
    Dennys Reyes, P0000000 .000
    Kyle McClellan, P0000000 .000
Albert Pujols, 1B2100203 .317
Matt Holliday, LF4111001 .310
Ryan Ludwick, RF4012011 .266
Colby Rasmus, CF4000002 .251
Mark DeRosa, 3B4010010 .260
Yadier Molina, C4000000 .287
Chris Carpenter, P2010000 .167
    Brendan Ryan, SS2010011 .298
Totals3538324  
a-announced for Hawksworth in the 7th
b-struck out for Greene in the 7th
Batting
2B - Julio Lugo (11, Moehler)
HR - Matt Holliday (18, Moehler)
RBI - Matt Holliday (83), Ryan Ludwick 2 (79)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Ludwick 2 (21)
SB - Albert Pujols (13, 2nd base off Valverde/Coste)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
PB - Yadier Molina (3)
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter 6522240 2.20
Blake Hawksworth (H,2) 1100000 2.63
Dennys Reyes (H,16) 0.1000000 3.90
Kyle McClellan (BS,3; L,4-3) 1.2322101 3.06
IBB - Matsui by Kyle McClellan
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 98-63, Blake Hawksworth 12-7, Dennys Reyes 1-1, Kyle McClellan 29-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 10-4, Blake Hawksworth 3-0, Kyle McClellan 3-2
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 25, Blake Hawksworth 4, Dennys Reyes 1, Kyle McClellan 9
Game Information
Attendance - 40348
Game Time - 2:35
Temperature - 87
Umpires - Home - Doug Eddings, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Dana DeMuth