for this game

Astros pound out 23 hits, crush Cardinals

Sep 21, 2007 - 5:49 AM By James Walsh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- The Houston Astros have been out of the playoff race for a while, but apparently the offense has not given up on the season.

September call-up J.R. Towles had three hits and a franchise-record eight RBI as the Astros pounded out 23 hits and overpowered the St. Louis Cardinals, 18-1, in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.

Starter Wandy Rodriguez (9-13) kept the Cardinals off the board until the eighth for Houston, which scored 15 or more runs for the second time in its last five games after not accomplishing the feat in the season's first 148 contests.

When the season began, this series looked to be an important one, as it featured the teams that have won the last three National League championships. But with less than two weeks left in the campaign, both clubs find themselves mere bystanders as the Chicago Cubs (80-73) and Milwaukee Brewers (78-74) battle for the National League Central Division title.

Making only his fourth start as catcher for the Astros, Towles connected for a two-run double in the second inning and drove in two more with a line-drive single to left in the fourth. His double to right in the sixth plated another run and gave Houston a comfortable 5-0 lead.

Towles added a bases-loaded walk in the eighth and his first career home run, a two-run shot in the ninth, to complete his night.

"It was the J.R. Towles show tonight, he set the tone," Astros interim manager Cecil Cooper said. "How about that, a franchise record, eight RBI. It takes some guys two weeks to get that, and he did it in one night. That's pretty nice."

The 23-year old from Crosby, Texas made his major league debut on September 5 and entered this game with three hits and one RBI in 11 at-bats. Towles started the year with the Class A Salem Avalanche, was promoted to Class AA in May and on to Class AAA Round Rock in August, appearing in the All-Star Futures Game in July.

"That's pretty impressive to come from A-ball to the big leagues in one year," Cooper said. "He is definitely someone to look toward the future with."

"I can't even describe it," Towles said. "This is the last thing I thought would happen to me. Coming up to the big leagues was pretty impressive, but this is beyond words right now."

Towles' production provided Rodriguez an opportunity for a rare road victory. The lefthander entered the game with a 2-10 record and an NL-high 7.31 ERA in 14 starts away from home.

"Wandy was real good," Cooper said. "It looked like he had some pep in his step tonight. He showed that he is a quality big-league pitcher. He made pitches and his command was good tonight."

Rodriguez picked up his first win in five career starts against the Cardinals, allowing only one run and five hits while striking out two and not issuing a walk in eight innings.

"The whole game, I tried to concentrate on making good pitches, and that's what I did," said Rodriguez, who threw only 88 pitches - 58 for strikes. "I've been through so many highs and lows."

St. Louis starter Braden Looper (12-11) suffered his first loss in five starts as the Cardinals lost for the 13th time in 15 games. Making his 29th start of the season, the converted closer was charged with five runs and nine hits while walking three in 5 2/3 frames.

"I felt all right, it's just that everything was up," Looper said. "I kept trying to make adjustments, and every time I made a good pitch, they'd hit that, too. I just didn't give us a chance."

The Astros turned the game into a laugher, scoring five runs in the seventh and six more in the eighth off St. Louis' beleagured bullpen. The output eclipsed the season-high 15 runs Houston scored against Pittsburgh just four days ago.

"(The Astros) came out and played a good ballgame," said infielder Aaron Miles, who pitched the ninth inning for the Cardinals. "They swung the bats real well today. You've got to have a short memory and come in the next day positive and know it's a new ballgame."

David Eckstein and Ryan Ludwick had two hits apiece for the defending World Series champion Cardinals (71-81), who fell 8 1/2 games behind the idle Cubs with 10 games to play.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 0 2 0 2 0 1 5 6 2 18 23 2
    ST LOUIS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 8 3 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - WANDY RODRIGUEZ, MARK MCLEMORE (9TH) AND J.R. TOWLES
    STL - BRADEN LOOPER, ANDY CAVAZOS (6TH), KELVIN JIMENEZ
    (7TH), BRIAN FALKENBORG (8TH), AARON MILES (9TH)

    Sep 20 11:21 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY J.R. TOWLES (1) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF AARON MILES SCORED CODY RANSOM.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 18, ST LOUIS 1
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W RODRIGUEZ (.128, 1-FOR-4, SAC, RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 11:06 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY SKIP SCHUMAKER SCORED MIGUEL CAIRO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, S SCHUMAKER ON FIRST, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 16
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: B RYAN (.304, 0-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:57 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MIKE LAMB SCORED BRAD AUSMUS.
    SITUATION: 6 RUNS IN, M LAMB ON FIRST, E BRUNTLETT ON SECOND, A
    EVERETT ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 16
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C BURKE (.232, 1-FOR-5, RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:53 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BRAD AUSMUS SCORED WANDY RODRIGUEZ.
    SITUATION: 5 RUNS IN, B AUSMUS ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 15
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: A EVERETT (.228, 2 HR, 15 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:51 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY JOSH ANDERSON SCORED J.R. TOWLES.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, W RODRIGUEZ ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 14
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: B AUSMUS (.235, 3 HR, 24 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:50 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    WILD PITCH BY BRIAN FALKENBORG ALLOWED CODY RANSOM TO
    SCORE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, W RODRIGUEZ ON FIRST, J TOWLES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 13
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: J ANDERSON (.441, 2-FOR-4, BB, 2 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:48 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY WANDY RODRIGUEZ SCORED MIKE LAMB.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, W RODRIGUEZ ON FIRST, J TOWLES ON SECOND, C
    RANSOM ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 12
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: J ANDERSON (.441, 2-FOR-4, BB, 2 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:48 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    BASES LOADED WALK TO J.R. TOWLES SCORED ERIC BRUNTLETT.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J TOWLES ON FIRST, C RANSOM ON SECOND, M
    LAMB ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 11
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W RODRIGUEZ (.109, 0-FOR-3, SAC)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:48 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CRAIG BIGGIO SCORED J.R. TOWLES.
    SITUATION: 5 RUNS IN, C BIGGIO ON SECOND, J ANDERSON ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 10
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.277, 1-FOR-4)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:19 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JOSH ANDERSON SCORED CHRIS BURKE AND CODY RANSOM.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, J ANDERSON ON FIRST, J TOWLES ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 9
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C BIGGIO (.246, 0-FOR-4)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:17 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CHRIS BURKE SCORED CARLOS LEE. ERROR BY SO
    TAGUCHI ALLOWED MIKE LAMB TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, C BURKE ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 7
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C RANSOM (.286, 2-FOR-2, BB)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 10:07 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND RULE DOUBLE BY J.R. TOWLES SCORED CODY RANSOM.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J TOWLES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 5
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W RODRIGUEZ (.114, 0-FOR-1, SAC)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 9:39 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY J.R. TOWLES SCORED CARLOS LEE AND MIKE LAMB.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J TOWLES ON FIRST, C RANSOM ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 4
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W RODRIGUEZ (.114, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 9:08 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY J.R. TOWLES SCORED CARLOS LEE AND CODY RANSOM.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J TOWLES ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2
    ST LOUIS 0 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: W RODRIGUEZ (.116, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 20 8:35 PM