for this game

Albers sharp as Astros edge Cardinals

Aug 30, 2007 - 9:53 PM By Jeremy Rakes PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) - Lance Berkman hit his 26th home run of the season and Matt Albers threw seven strong innings as the Houston Astros posted a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon.

Berkman gave the Astros a one-run advantage in the fourth after he led off the inning with a 408-foot solo blast into the upper deck in right field. It was Berkman's second homer in as many days.

He is batting .408 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 19 games.

"You never think, in the fourth inning, that it's going to hold up," Berkman said. "But our pitching really came through. (New Astros manager Cecil Cooper) has done a tremendous job already.

"He's always been a man of dignity and he commands respect. The way he's come in and established his own style has been impressive. I'm excited to see how he's going to do the rest of the way."

Albers (4-6) had a stellar start, allowing one run and three hits while walking four and striking out three in seven frames. Chad Qualls pitched the eighth and Brad Lidge tossed a scoreless ninth for his 14th save.

"I felt pretty good," Albers said. "My fastball was down in the zone, and I mixed my curve in. Things went pretty well for me. I think this is one of my better starts. I'm starting to feel more comfortable on the mound. I'm trying to just trust my stuff and try not to make too good a pitch."

Berkman's shot came after the Cardinals tied the game in the third. St. Louis starter Joel Pineiro (3-2) started the inning with a single to left, his first hit of the season and just the third of his career.

Rookie Brendan Ryan followed with a double to deep left-center field, advancing Pineiro to third. Pineiro scored when David Eckstein grounded out to short to make it 1-1.

Albers got out of further trouble when Rick Ankiel lined out to Berkman at first. After Albert Pujols was intentionally walked, Juan Encarnacion grounded out to Eric Munson to retire the side.

"He was awful good," Cooper said of Albers. "Matty's growing up a little bit and shown he's a big-league pitcher. I'm very proud of him. He made some big pitches after that. He grew up a little bit today. This kid has a chance to be a big-time, big-league pitcher."

Houston got on the board in the second inning. Mike Lamb was issued a one-out walk and Luke Scott doubled to left, scoring Lamb from first. Scott, however, was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

The Astros missed a chance to extend their lead in the sixth when rookie Hunter Pence led off with a single to left. Pence then advanced to third when Pineiro's pick-off throw to first went behind Pujols and down the line.

But Houston could not get Pence home as Chris Burke popped to second, Berkman grounded out to the pitcher and Carlos Lee grounded out to third to end the threat.

Pineiro had another good outing for St. Louis since coming over from the Boston Red Sox at the July 31 trade deadline. The righthander allowed two runs and five hits while walking one and striking out three in six innings.

"One mistake was all it took, and it was enough," Pineiro said. "Just got to tip your cap to Albers. He did his job. One pitch to Berkman was enough. I knew that the one pitch could have been enough. Tough luck.

"We wanted to come in here and win the series, but there's nothing you can do. We battled, but we were one run short."

The Cardinals (64-66), who now have lost two in a row after a three-game winning streak, trail the Chicago Cubs (67-64) by 2 1/2 games in the National League Central.

"(Pineiro) pitched a winning game," St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa said. "We had a couple chances but not a lot. It was a close game. We needed to have something break for us, but nothing did. That's just to their credit.

"We were competing our best. Just give credit to their pitchers. He pitched well. He's got a good assortment. He has a lot of movement. He stays out of the middle."

Later Thursday night, the Cubs face the Milwaukee Brewers (66-66), who are 1 1/2 games back in the division.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ST LOUIS 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 1
    HOUSTON 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 x 2 7 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: STL - JOEL PINEIRO, TYLER JOHNSON (7TH), RUSS SPRINGER (8TH) AND
    YADIER MOLINA
    HOU - MATT ALBERS, CHAD QUALLS (8TH), BRAD LIDGE (9TH)
    AND ERIC MUNSON

    HOME RUNS:

    Aug 30 4:36 PM
  • 35
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Cardinals vs. AstrosAug 30 4:29 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY LANCE BERKMAN (26) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF JOEL PINEIRO.
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 1, HOUSTON 2
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C LEE (.306, 0-FOR-1)

    Cardinals vs. AstrosAug 30 3:07 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY DAVID ECKSTEIN SCORED JOEL PINEIRO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B RYAN ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 1
    HOUSTON 1 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: R ANKIEL (.315, 0-FOR-1)

    Cardinals vs. AstrosAug 30 2:43 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY LUKE SCOTT SCORED MIKE LAMB.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 0
    HOUSTON 1 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: E BRUNTLETT (.244, 0 HR, 12 RBI)

    Cardinals vs. AstrosAug 30 2:36 PM