Houston stymies St. Louis

Astros sweep at Busch for the first time since 1994.
Thursday, April 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:14 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Wade Miller walked a career-high seven, which usually comes 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 past the Cardinals 11-1 on 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 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 flew 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 hit a home run for the second straight game for Houston, which outhit the Cardinals 14-5. Jeff Bagwell hit a three-run home run 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. They 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 home runs.

Closer Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth and allowed only his third home run 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 home run in four games made it 5-0 in the fifth.

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