ST. LOUIS (AP) -- J.D. Drew broke out of a 1-for-17 slump at just
the right time.
Drew, who didn't start the last two games because of his
struggles, hit a leadoff home run in the ninth inning as the St. Louis Cardinals won for the 11th time in 13 games, beating the
Houston Astros 3-2 Wednesday night.
"It can never be over, because you're going to make outs sooner
or later,'' Drew said. "You just hopefully tally enough hits to
have a good year when it's all said and done. I'm trying to
approach it by not focusing on the past, but focusing on the 400 or
so at-bats I have left ahead of me and making the most out of
The Cardinals are 8-1 on their homestand with one game to go,
the series finale Thursday.
Drew struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. In the ninth,
hit a 3-2 pitch from Ricky Stone (2-2) well beyond the right-field
wall, a drive estimated at 438 feet for his seventh homer of the
"He's a great hitter,'' Stone said. "It doesn't matter what
kind of slump he's in, he can always hurt you. Hopefully, I didn't
get him out of that slump and get him hot.''
Drew agreed it was a good idea to sit again after a brief
pregame meeting with manager Tony La Russa, who also didn't want
him to face Roy Oswalt.
"I just explained to him when he has good work sessions like he
had yesterday and today, sometimes two days is better than one,''
La Russa said. "The other thing is the guy who was pitching
Dave Veres (3-3) pitched two scoreless innings as the Cardinals
came from behind to win for the 17th time this season.
The Cardinals tied it at 2 in the eighth after the Astros'
bullpen took over for Oswalt, who continued a dominant May. Albert
Pujols lined a single off Octavio Dotel to drive in Fernando Vina,
who doubled to start the inning and advanced on a sacrifice.
The Astros left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth against
Veres. Julio Lugo reached on third baseman Miguel Cairo's fielding
error, Jeff Bagwell walked and Lance Berkman was intentionally
passed before Brian Hunter hit a dribbler to the mound.
The ball went between Veres' legs and he hit it twice with his
foot before realizing where it was, catching Hunter at first on a
disputed call by umpire Tim McClelland.
"I actually meant to kick at it and for some reason I thought
it shot up, so I'm running around in circles,'' Veres said. "I
looked at it on video and on one of my turns I kicked the ball and
that's why I knew it was down there, so I just grabbed it and threw
Houston manager Jimy Williams argued the call between innings.
"Well, I don't have the greatest angle,'' Williams said. "But
as fast as Hunter is and as long as it looked to me like he took to
get that ball, and the way people reacted down the line, I'm going
to come out.''
Lugo hit his first home run and scored twice for the Astros, who
have lost three in a row after winning seven straight.
Tino Martinez had two hits and two walks for the Cardinals,
raising his average 10 points to .234.
Oswalt allowed five hits and struck out four in seven innings.
In four starts this month, he's 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA.
Lugo singled on the first pitch of the game from Darryl Kile and
scored on a groundout by Lance Berkman to give the Astros the lead.
The Cardinals tied it in the second when Jim Edmonds doubled,
advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Miguel Cairo.
Lugo's homer, on a 1-0 pitch from Kile to start the third, put
the Astros back in front.
Oswalt did the rest, with the Cardinals failing to advance past
first base the next five innings. He was at his strongest at the
end of his stint, striking out three straight batters in the sixth
Kile has a 2.65 ERA against the Astros, for whom he played from
1991-97, in three starts this year. In six innings, he gave up two
runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and four walks.
Kile escaped damage in his final inning when he had a 3-0 count
on Lugo with the bases loaded and two outs before retiring him on a
lineout to right on a 3-1 pitch.
Cardinals RHP Matt Morris, scheduled to start the series
finale Thursday, showed up at Busch Stadium with a stomach virus
Wednesday and received IV fluids. ... The Cardinals have been
outscored 64-30 in the first two innings. ... Lugo hit 10 homers
each of his first two seasons. ... The Cardinals are 6-2 against
the Astros this season. ... Oswalt hasn't allowed a home run in 56
innings. ... Martinez is 9-for-20 with two homers during a six-game