ST. LOUIS (AP) - Bud Norris shut down St. Louis for the fourth
straight time, Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer after a testy
exchange and the Houston Astros wrapped up a three-game sweep of
the Cardinals with a 4-1 victory on Thursday.
Houston posted its first sweep in St. Louis since taking a
three-game series in April 2004. The Cardinals have lost seven of
Houston's Lance Berkman extended his streak of reaching base to
nine in a row with a double and two singles before grounding out.
Norris (2-4) struck out eight and walked none in eight innings.
He gave up one run and six hits. Though he's 8-7 with a 5.10 ERA
lifetime, Norris is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA in four career starts
against St. Louis.
Norris had lost three straight starts going into Thursday's
game, allowing 16 earned runs in 13 2-3 innings. Norris thrived
under a different catcher, Humberto Quintero.
The Astros scored all four runs in the third, perhaps taking
advantage of Chris Carpenter's temper. Carpenter (4-1) and Carlos
Lee had a staredown and then exchanged words after Lee popped out
with two runners on base, leading to both benches and bullpens
streaming on the field, although nothing got overheated.
Pence was next up with two outs, and he hit his fifth homer to
put Houston ahead 4-0. Berkman's RBI single drove in the first run.
Berkman matched a career best by reaching in nine straight plate
appearances. He had two homers during the streak, which fell four
shy of the franchise record of 13 set by Bill Spiers in 1997.
Matt Holliday's RBI single in the seventh ended Norris' string
of 24 innings without allowing an earned run against St. Louis.
Albert Pujols ran through third base coach Jose Oquendo's stop sign
to score the run.
Matt Lindstrom worked the ninth for his ninth save in nine
chances and 21st in a row dating to April 28, 2009.
Carpenter worked eight innings and retired his last 11 hitters,
finishing with five strikeouts and three walks.
NOTES: Houston's Felipe Paulino is 0-5 overall and 0-2 with an
18.47 career ERA against the Giants heading into Friday's start in
San Francisco. ... Astros manager Brad Mills trotted out a repeat
lineup for only the second time this season. Houston has used 32
different lineups, a major league high. ... Holliday had two hits
and a walk.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)