ST. LOUIS — The Houston Astros turned to their bullpen to quiet the St. Louis bats.
After starter Jared Fernandez allowed four runs in the first inning, Brandon Duckworth and four other relievers gave up one run the rest of the game and Houston beat the Cardinals 10-5 on Monday night.
“They did an outstanding job against a tough-hitting ballclub,” Houston manager Jimy Williams said. “It was a good team victory. A lot of people contributed.”
Richard Hidalgo drove in four runs with a three-run home run and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly that put the Astros ahead for good. Craig Biggio scored three runs and had three doubles, including a two-out, three-run hit in the eighth.
It was the bullpen, though, which had surrendered 10 runs in 16 1-3 innings prior to Monday, that kept Houston in the game, It shut down the Cardinals, who came in batting an NL-best .311, in the final seven innings.
Duckworth relieved Fernandez in the first and pitched 3 2-3 innings, giving up a second-inning run.
“To me, (Duckworth) gets our game ball,” Biggio said. “He pitched great against their lineup and gave us a chance to win.”
Dan Miceli followed Duckworth with two scoreless innings. Then Ricky Stone (1-0), Brad Lidge and Octavio Dotel each pitched a shutout inning.
The teams combined to send 16 batters to the plate in a 44-minute first inning. The cold apparently did not bother the hitters. The temperature, a breezy 52 degrees at the start, dropped into the 40s by the end of the game.
Jeff Bagwell doubled home Biggio, and Hidalgo hit a two-out home run over the left-center field wall off Woody Williams to put Houston up 4-0.
Fernandez, a knuckleballer subbing for the injured Andy Pettitte, came into the game with a 27.00 ERA and it doubled to 54.00 in a third of an inning.
Fernandez walked three of the first five hitters, including a bases-loaded walk to Jim Edmonds that gave St. Louis its first run. A single by Scott Rolen, a sacrifice fly by Edgar Renteria and a single by Reggie Sanders tied it at 4.
St. Louis went ahead in the second on consecutive singles by Ray Lankford, Albert Pujols and Edmonds off Duckworth. The Cardinals, though, managed only three hits after the second, two singles by Renteria and one by Rolen.
The Astros tied it in the seventh on Adam Everett’s sacrifice fly off reliever Mike Lincoln (2-1), who allowed five runs in 1 1-3 innings.
Jeff Kent was hit by a pitch leading off the eighth and went to third on Lance Berkman’s single before Hidalgo’s sacrifice fly made it 6-5.
Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Biggio drove a pitch from Julian Tavarez off the left-field wall to score three. Everett brought Biggio home with a single.
“It got into that part of the game where the team that makes the fewest mistakes wins and we made too many mistakes,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.