Originally created 04/15/04

Astros blast Cardinals



ST. LOUIS -- Wade Miller walked a career-high seven, which usually come back to haunt a pitcher.

Not this time.

Miller worked around the wildness to win his fifth consecutive start against St. Louis, leading the Houston Astros over the Cardinals 11-1 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.

"I can't pitch like that all year long and expect to get a win," Miller said. "But I was able to bear down when I had to and throw some decent pitches when I had to."

Miller (2-0) gave up only two hits in seven shutout innings. He is 12-3 against St. Louis, has a 1.46 ERA against the Cardinals in his last five starts against them and helped the Astros to a sweep at Busch Stadium for the first time since July 4-6, 1994.

The closest the Cardinals came to scoring against him was when Albert Pujols flied out to the left-field wall with two on and two outs in the fifth.

"I thought the ball Pujols hit was gone," Miller said. "He doesn't miss that pitch often, so that was a big out."

Lance Berkman homered for the second straight game for Houston, which outhit the Cardinals 14-5. Jeff Bagwell hit a three-run homer in the ninth and Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Richard Hidalgo had three hits each for Houston. Biggio doubled twice, giving him five in the series.

Biggio is working with a new batting stance, eliminating the leg kick he had most of his career. He is hitting .412.

"The biggest thing about not having it anymore is you're not moving as much and the ball's not moving as much," Biggio said. "Hopefully, you cannot swing at as many bad pitches."

Morgan Ensberg added a two-run double. The Astros have won four straight, outscoring opponents 31-13, and outscored the Cardinals 26-9.

"One good series in April doesn't mean we're going to run away with the thing or we're automatically in the postseason," Berkman said. "But it's certainly encouraging to see these guys who are supposed to be our horses go out and do such a great job."

While Houston went 5-1 on a trip that raised its record to 6-3, the Cardinals dropped to 1-6 at home, their worst start at Busch Stadium since 1973 (also 1-6). They've been outscored 56-34 at home, allowing 15 homers.

Closer Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth and allowed only his third homer since the end of the 2001 season.

"In September, it would be real bad," Isringhausen said. "We've been kicked a little bit but we're not down."

Jim Edmonds wasn't that impressed with the Astros.

"I think they're the same team they had last year, I really do," Edmonds said. "I really don't think there's any difference. They've got decent pitching, they've got good defense and they've got good offense."

Chris Carpenter (1-1) gave up five runs - four earned - and six hits in five innings in his first home start.

St. Louis was held scoreless until Scott Rolen's RBI single off Ricky Stone in the eighth.

Ensberg's two-run double in the fourth put Houston ahead, and Berkman's third homer in four games made it 5-0 in the fifth. Biggio had an RBI double in the sixth off Jason Simontacchi and a two-run single in the seventh off Cal Eldred.

Notes: The Astros were 11-7 against the Cardinals last year. ... Bo Hart, who didn't walk in 70 plate appearances in spring training for the Cardinals, walked as a pinch hitter with one out in the fifth. ... Simontacchi allowed a homer to his first batter in his first three outings. In his fourth appearance Thursday, Brad Ausmus greeted him with a single to start the sixth.