Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols homered. But it was a bases loaded double from pitcher Jake Westbrook that provided the offense the Cardinals needed Wednesday to beat the Astros 7-4.
The victory, coupled with a Phillies loss, propelled the Redbirds to the best record in the majors, 37-25 for a .597 winning percentage.
The former Houston slugger Berkman hit a two-run shot in the first only to have it erased by Cliff Lee's two-run homer in the bottom of the frame. The score was tied at two until the fourth when Westbrook found himself at the plate with two outs and the bases loaded.
The St. Louis starter doubled to centerfield to clear the bases and make the score 5-3 where it stood until the Astros got a run in the sixth. Pujols hit a monster blast in the top of the eighth to restore the three-run lead.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
But the Cardinals couldn't help themselves from making things interesting in the eighth inning. Eduardo Sanchez came in and walked the first two guys he faced to bring the tying run to the plate. So manager Tony La Russa yanked one of his young righty relievers for another, brining Fernando Salas into the contest.
Salas promptly walked the first person he faced to bring the go ahead run to the plate with no one out. But he quickly settled and got a strikeout, a pop up and another strikeout to end the frame with no damage done -- other than that caused by my elevated blood pressure.
Ryan Theriot extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a double in the top of the ninth. It was the fourth time he got his lone hit of a game during the streak in his last at bat. It also provided the Redbirds with a much needed insurance run.
The Astros got a run in the bottom of the ninth. But Salas completed the two-inning save to salt away the win.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Westbrook's start was mediocre. But his double with three runs driven in put the Redbirds ahead for good.
Cardinal Play of the Game: Salas' strikeout to end the eighth inning.
Lowlight: Cardinals pitcher passed out seven walks in the game, a totally unacceptable amount of free passes.