for this game

Berkman, Backe pace Astros past Cardinals

Sep 22, 2007 - 4:57 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- A night after scoring a season-high 18 runs, the Houston Astros needed only a pair of three-run innings.

Lance Berkman hit a first-inning, two-run homer and Brandon Backe pitched six strong frames as the Astros defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-3, on Friday.

It was the third straight win for the Astros, while the Cardinals have lost 14 of 16.

"All and all, I thought we pitched well," Astros interim manager Cecil Cooper said. "Brandon, I thought, didn't have the stuff that he had his last outing. But he battled."

Backe (2-1), who was making just his fourth start of the season after missing the first five months due to "Tommy John" surgery, scattered six hits and gave up two runs.

"I think I did OK," Backe said. "I battled with what I had. I think that's where the competitiveness overtakes the 'stuff.' You go out there and compete and make the pitches that you actually need to. Then you can get out of jams and help yourself out a lot."

The Cardinals nearly rallied for an improbable win in the bottom of the ninth. Houston reliever Stephen Randolph walked the bases loaded with two outs and Brad Lidge walking pinch hitter Albert Pujols on four pitches to make it 6-3.

"The game plan was to try to get ahead of (Pujols) and put him away," Lidge said. "I'm not trying to walk him. I really am trying to throw a strike. But at the same time, you have to be smart when you fall behind a guy like that in a situation like that.

"He's a great hitter and I have a lot of respect for him, but I'm certainly trying to get him out when I come into the inning."

Lidge then got Yadier Molina to hit into a forceout for his 16th save.

Houston scored three runs in the first on Berkman's home run and Ty Wigginton's RBI single off Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro.

J.R. Towles, who set a franchise record with eight RBI on Thursday, lined a two-run double in the top of the eighth and Josh Anderson added a RBI single to forge a 6-2 lead.

Scott Spiezio had a sacrifice fly in the first and Rick Ankiel hit an RBI grounder in the fifth for the Cardinals, who officially were eliminated from the playoffs.

"It was academic," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The thing that's more irritating is the current stretch of having a tough time winning a game. We're right there, we just can't punch through."

Trailing, 3-2, in the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals threatened to tie the game by putting runners on first and third with one out. However, Houston reliever Dennis Sarfate struck out Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick to end the inning.

Pineiro (6-5) went 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and eight hits.

"If I could avoid those early struggles, those early runs in the game, it could be a totally different ballgame," Pineiro said. "I tried to battle, I tried to keep the guys in the ballgame."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 6 13 1
    ST LOUIS 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 8 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - BRANDON BACKE, DENNIS SARFATE (7TH), CHAD QUALLS (8TH),
    STEPHEN RANDOLPH (9TH), BRAD LIDGE (9TH) AND J.R. TOWLES
    STL - JOEL PINEIRO, TYLER JOHNSON (6TH), RUSS

    Sep 21 11:49 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    BASES LOADED WALK TO ALBERT PUJOLS SCORED RICK ANKIEL.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A PUJOLS ON FIRST, S SPIEZIO ON SECOND, R
    LUDWICK ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 6
    ST LOUIS 3 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: Y MOLINA (.276, 0-FOR-4)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 21 11:46 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JOSH ANDERSON SCORED J.R. TOWLES.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, J ANDERSON ON FIRST, O PALMEIRO ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 6
    ST LOUIS 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C BURKE (.232, 1-FOR-4)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 21 11:01 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY J.R. TOWLES SCORED HUNTER PENCE AND CODY RANSOM.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J TOWLES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 5
    ST LOUIS 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: D SARFATE (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 21 10:54 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY RICK ANKIEL SCORED AARON MILES.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R ANKIEL ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    ST LOUIS 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: R LUDWICK (.257, 1-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 21 9:50 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY SCOTT SPIEZIO SCORED RICK ANKIEL.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R LUDWICK ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: S SCHUMAKER (.315, 2 HR, 16 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 21 8:36 PM


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

    CURRENT PITCHERS: HOU - BRANDON BACKE
    STL - JOEL PINEIRO

    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: D ECKSTEIN (.300, 3 HR, 29 RBI)
    R ANKIEL (.273, 9 HR, 30 RBI)
    R LUDWICK (.256, 14 HR, 46 RB

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 21 8:25 PM