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Biggio's late-game heroics lift Astros past Cardinals

Sep 23, 2006 - 2:49 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Craig Biggio proved he has what it takes to finish out games.

Biggio's single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Orlando Palmeiro with the winning run and lifted the Houston Astros to a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

With the Astros trailing, 5-2, in the eighth, Palmeiro and Eric Bruntlett hit consecutive singles before Biggio delivered a two-run single off reliever Adam Wainwright to make it an one-run contest.

"Sometimes you come through, sometimes you don't," Biggio said. "When you get your mind-set right, you can come up with big hits."

In the ninth, Adam Everett singled with one out and Palmeiro followed with an RBI double down the left field line off Braden Looper (9-3) to tie the game. Palmeiro took third on a groundout by Aubrey Huff, setting up Biggio's base hit to right field.

"You can't expect to do something like this against their relievers," Biggio added. "But we had some really quality at-bats from Adam and Orlando. There's no quit in here. We just continue to go out and play and see what happens (Saturday)."

Chad Qualls (6-3) picked up the win for Houston (75-78), which trails the Los Angeles Dodgers by 5 1/2 games in the National League wild card chase and also sits 5 1/2 back of the Cardinals (80-72) in the Central.

"It really feels good," Qualls said. "We haven't had a walk-off hit in a while. To be able to get one in this situation was really nice. Basically, we're just thinking about getting back to .500 and see what happens then. We're starting to feel like the end of the year last year."

Astros rookie starter Jason Hirsh surrendered four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 frames.

In his first career start, Cardinals rookie Chris Narveson yielded just two runs and two hits with a season-high six strikeouts in four innings.

"You always want to do well in your first start so you can prove to yourself that you really do belong," Narveson said. "I just wanted to go out there (Friday) and give the team a chance. I think I was able to do that."

David Eckstein, Ronnie Belliard and Chris Duncan all homered for the Cardinals, whose magic number remained at five to clinch their third straight division title.

St. Louis infielder Scott Spiezio also plated a pair of runs with a triple off Russ Springer in the fifth.

"It can get tough, especially when you get down to the last few games," Spiezio said. "And we're still playing well. I think we'd all be a little bit more worried if we weren't playing well."

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