Starters pitch well


HOUSTON (AP) -- The crowd was roaring as the Astros were finally
cutting into St. Louis' lead.

Jason Isringhausen quickly put an end to all that.

The Cardinals closer thwarted Houston's eighth-inning rally and
finished for his second save of the season, leading St. Louis to a
5-3 victory Tuesday night.

"Issy is always tough," Houston's Craig Biggio said. "He's
one of the toughest closers in the league and he pitched a good
game tonight. We battled back, but we came up short."

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Reggie
Sanders homered in the third and snatched away a Jeff Bagwell shot
at the right-field wall in the fifth, helping the Cardinals break a
four-game losing streak at Houston.

A matchup between the NL's two top offensive teams never really
materialized until late as the Cardinals' Jeff Suppan and Houston's
Wade Miller each had impressive mound performances early on.

But Miller cracked first, making a bad pitch to Pujols with two
outs in the sixth. Pujols' shot stayed just inside the left-field
pole to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead.

"(Miller) pitched a great game, but he just made a mistake,"
Pujols said. "I guess I got lucky."

The Cardinals added two runs in the seventh on a fielding error
by third baseman Jose Vizcaino that scored Scott Rolen and Tony
Womack's RBI single.

Houston, which swept a three-game series at St. Louis last week,
tried to rally in the eighth.

Bagwell singled and Jeff Kent got on base with help from a
fielding error by third baseman Scott Rolen. Lance Berkman homered
off Steve Kline, pulling the Astros within two runs.

The crowd of 29,625, mostly quiet throughout the evening, came
alive as it sensed a brief shift in momentum.

But Isringhausen relieved and struck out Richard Hidalgo and
Mike Lamb, then finished for the save.

"We needed to prove to those guys that we could play with them
after they kicked our butts last week," Isringhausen said. "We
had to show them a little something."

Suppan (1-2), who pitched six innings, didn't give up any hits
after Bagwell's single in the third. He walked two batters after
that but didn't allow them past first base.

Sanders' beautiful catch off the wall in the fifth -- even he was
so impressed with the play that he smiled and flipped the ball back
into the stands -- helped preserve Suppan's win.

"The wind was really howling out there and it was difficult to
stay with the ball," Sanders said. "I knew I couldn't afford to
take my eye off of it."

Miller (2-1), who had won five straight starts against St.
Louis, allowed five runs and five hits in six innings. He retired
eight consecutive batters after giving up Sanders' homer but left
in the sixth after Pujols' homer.

"I was challenging him. I wasn't looking to walk him or pitch
around him," Miller said. "It was just a bad pitch on my part. It
was just a dumb pitch. He's a good hitter and you can't afford to
do that with him."

The crowd got a bit of a laugh, however, when a streaker ran
onto the field during the seventh-inning stretch. The chubby man
darted to center field and threw a couple of head fakes at oncoming
security guards before he was tackled to the ground. He was
escorted off the field to a standing ovation.

Game notes
Former PGA and British Open champion John Daly, wearing a
loose-fitting Hawaiian-style shirt, threw out the ceremonial first
pitch. He received a smattering of applause as he trotted off the
mound. ... It was only the fourth away game for St. Louis, tied
with Atlanta for fewest NL road games. ... A couple of fans tumbled
over the field boxes in left field going after a foul ball by
Biggio. The crowd really got a laugh when the two men scrambled
over each other in the dirt to get the ball. One came up with the
prize and sheepishly scrambled back to his seat.