HOUSTON (AP) -- Tony La Russa saw signs that Albert Pujols was
ready for a big game.
"You never know when it's coming, but the last couple of days
he's gotten three or four walks, and that means that he is seeing
the ball better and that is when it starts," the St. Louis manager
said.Pujols homered twice, going 4-for-5 with three RBI Saturday to
lead the Cardinals to their fifth straight win over the Houston
Astros, 10-3."I've been looking for this day for a while, it's been a real
roller-coaster ride," Pujols said.Pujols homered in the first and fifth innings off Wade Miller
(5-5), his second multihomer game this season and the eighth of his
career.Pujols has five homers in his last seven games, raising his
season total to 14, which tied Arizona's Steve Finley, Florida's
Mike Lowell and Colorado's Jeromy Burnitz and Vinny Castilla for
the major league lead."I wasn't thinking about hitting home runs, but I knew that
Miller has had our number, and we wanted to jump on him early to
give Woody Williams the lead right away," Pujols said.Cody McKay went 4-for-5 for the Cardinals, who had 16 hits, and
Roger Cedeno hit his first home run since last Sept. 16 for the New
York Mets against the Chicago Cubs. St. Louis tied the Astros for
second in the NL Central at 26-22."I didn't need any hits. It was enough for me that we won and
that Woody won the game and pitched well," said McKay, a catcher
who had the first multihit game of his big league career. "But the
four hits made it extra exciting."Williams (2-5) gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings."I felt a lot better out there today than I have been,"
Williams said. "I wasn't as sharp as I need to be, but I made more
quality pitches."Houston led 3-2 in the fifth when Pujols' second homer tied the
score. Scott Rolen's triple chased Miller, who allowed four runs
and seven hits in four-plus innings, and Edgar Renteria's RBI
grounder off Mike Gallo put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.St. Louis added five runs in the eighth, when a controversial
single by Ray Lankford led to the ejection of Houston manager Jimy
Williams.After McKay's RBI single, Lankford hit a high popup down the
right-field line that second baseman Jeff Kent misjudged and
allowed to drop for a single. The ball appeared to change course,
and Kent and Williams argued that it hit a beam of the roof and was
foul."If the ball hits the roof in foul territory, then it doesn't
matter where it hits when it hits the ground. It is a foul ball,"
Williams said. "If it hits in fair territory up on the roof, then
it is the striking point on the ground that matters," Williams
said. "It had to have struck something up there and caromed
back."Kent overthrew third on the play for an error that allowed John
Mabry to score from second for a 6-3 lead, and when third baseman
Jose Vizcaino's throw home hit Mabry in the back, the runners
advanced to second and third on the second error.Cedeno followed a three-run homer. Lankford had an RBI single in
the ninth off Brandon Duckworth.After Pujols' first homer, Kent's RBI single tied the score in
the bottom half, and Craig Biggio put Houston ahead with an RBI
double in the second. Pujols hit a tying single in the third, but
Miller's run-scoring single put Houston back ahead in the fourth.
Kent extended hit career best hitting streak to 14 games.
... Miller's outing was his shortest since last Sept. 23, when he
pitched 1 2-3 innings. ... The crowd of 41,141 increased Houston's
home total to 1,002,817, up from 719,983 through 27 home games last
season. ... Pujols had his first four-hit game this season. .. Adam
Everett got his 14h sacrifice bunt, most in the majors. ... Dan
Miceli allowed five runs for the first time in 158 games since Aug.
16, 2000, against Los Angeles.