Astros 5, Cardinals 4

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HOUSTON (AP) – Roy Oswalt pitched eight strong innings and Lance Berkman drove in three runs to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

Oswalt (5-1) gave up only four hits, but three were solo home runs. He struck out five and walked none.

Brad Lidge pitched the ninth inning for his 10th save in 12 opportunities, but allowed a one-out RBI single to Jim Edmonds.

Houston led 5-1 before Albert Pujols and Hector Luna homered to almost the same spot in left field in consecutive innings off of Oswalt to cut the lead to 5-3 in the eighth.

Pujols hit his first home run of the month on a solo shot in the seventh inning in his return to the lineup. The feat was greeted with loud boos from the packed crowd.

Pujols, who leads the league in home runs (15) and RBIs (33), sat out Tuesday with stiffness in his back.

Houston jumped out to an early lead when Berkman hit a two-run double in the first before scoring on Jason Lane’s sacrifice fly to center field.

Willy Taveras chased starter Jason Marquis with a RBI-triple to the right-field corner in the sixth inning. Berkman’s second double of the night scored Taveras and gave Houston a 5-1 lead. Taveras finished with three hits.

Marquis (3-3) allowed eight hits, five runs and walked four in 5 2-3 innings.

Scott Spiezio hit his third home run of the season on a solo homer to right center field with two outs in the second inning.

After Spiezio’s home run, Oswalt pitched three hitless innings before a single by Marquis in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second, John Rodriguez grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The defeat gives the Cardinals a three-game losing streak for just the second time this season.

Notes: Berkman has hit safely in 23 of 27 games this season and failed to reach base only twice. … Marquis was 4-0 in five starts against the Astros last season with a 3.22 ERA. …The Astros’ 18-9 record this season equals their franchise-best mark through 27 games that was set in 1980.

AP-ES-05-03-06 2300EDT

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