ST. LOUIS — Craig Biggio caught up with Hank Aaron and helped the Houston Astros stay above .500 in the process.
Biggio’s two-run homer capped a five-run seventh and he tied Aaron for ninth place on the career doubles list in a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think about the hits or the runs or whatever it is, I just think about the company and the clientele you’re hanging with,” Biggio said. “That is so overwhelming it’s beyond belief for me.”
The big inning rescued Andy Pettitte, who had left after six innings trailing 3-1, and kept the Astros from dropping below .500 for the first time all season. Houston is 9-17 on the road, 3-6 with one game left on a 10-game trip and 27-26 overall.
Houston is 11-18 this month, avoiding the franchise’s worst May. The Astros were 10-19 last year and in 2000.
“We can always say, hey, we’ve got a better record than we did last year,” closer Brad Lidge said after getting the last three outs for his 14th save in 17 chances. “We were 15-30 and we still went to the World Series.
“I don’t think we ever think we’re out of things no matter how bad we’re playing.”
Pinch-hitters Mike Lamb and Orlando Palmeiro had RBI singles off Josh Hancock (1-1) in the seventh, and Lamb scored on Palmeiro’s hit when center fielder So Taguchi’s throw to third got past Scott Rolen and rolled into the camera well near the dugout.
“It’s frustrating to blow a lead for anybody,” Hancock said. “They were all mistakes. They might have hit good pitches, but in my mind they were all mistakes.”
The homer was Biggio’s fifth and he hit his 624th career double in the sixth to tie Aaron. He has 2,850 hits, moving two past Brooks Robinson for 40th place, and a day earlier became the 23rd player to reach 10,000 at-bats.
Rolen hit his sixth homer and doubled twice for the Cardinals, who lost for only the fourth time in 13 games.
Rolen and Juan Encarnacion homered on consecutive pitches against Pettitte (4-6) in the fourth, Encarnacion’s 429-foot drive just inside the left-field foul pole, for a 3-1 lead. Rolen doubled and scored on Yadier Molina’s double in the second.
Pettitte, who struck out four and had an intentional walk to Albert Pujols with one out and a runner on second in the fifth, won for the first time in five road starts this season. He allowed 21 earned runs in 19 innings in the first four road outings, and in his last two outings overall had given up 12 runs in nine innings in a pair of losses.
“Until we scored all the runs it was another scratching-my-head, frustrating start,” Pettitte said. “It seems like I can’t get away with anything and I’m just hoping we can grind out a couple of runs.”
Rookie Anthony Reyes had seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings as the stand-in for Chris Carpenter, placed on the 15-day disabled list with bursitis in his right shoulder before the game. He allowed three runs and five hits with one walk.
“He pitched very effectively,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t bring it home for him.”
Chris Carpenter was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday with bursitis under his right shoulder blade, but hopes to miss only one more start.
The team is cautious about rushing back last year’s NL Cy Young winner. Manager Tony La Russa said 24-year-old rookie Anthony Reyes, who was scheduled to start against the Astros in Carpenter’s spot on Tuesday night, likely would stay with the Cardinals until the team is sure Carpenter is ready to return.
Carpenter, 4-2 with a 2.63 ERA, was placed on the DL retroactive to May 22, the day after Reyes, who replaced him at Kansas City on May 20, was optioned back to the minors. He threw a lengthy bullpen session about four hours before Tuesday night’s game against Houston in his first extended workout since the injury and felt no pain.
“I felt good,” Carpenter said. “Now we’ll see how it feels tomorrow when I wake up.”
Carpenter is scheduled to throw again on Friday, and barring problems he’ll be slotted back into the rotation. Carpenter thought he’d pitch Tuesday, the first day he would be eligible.
Center fielder Jim Edmonds, meanwhile, missed his fourth straight start with what the team called lower abdominal discomfort. Edmonds underwent an MRI earlier Tuesday and was scheduled to meet with a specialist on Wednesday.