Kent triggers Astros' rally past Cards

Friday, May 30, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Kent started a rally in the eighth inning with a double and hit a two-run double in the ninth, and the Houston Astros beat the Cardinals 7-4 Thursday night after blowing a three-run lead.

The Astros scored twice in the eighth and added two more runs in the ninth after failing to hold a 3-1 lead in the seventh.

Kent's double with one out in the eighth knocked out Cardinals starter Matt Morris. Jeff Fassero (0-2) relieved and Lance Berkman hit a grounder that shortstop Edgar Renteria missed for St. Louis' third error. Kent scored and Berkman went to second.

Cal Eldred relieved and gave up a single to Morgan Ensberg, sending Berkman to third. A sacrifice fly by Ausmus gave Houston a 5-4 lead.

Kirk Saarloos (1-0) faced one batter for the win and give the Astros a split of the four-game series.

Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 15th save -- 11th straight. The Astros are 23-1 when leading after eight innings this season.

The Cardinals took a 4-3 lead in the seventh off Brad Lidge, who came on in relief of starter Tim Redding with two outs in the sixth.

Lidge walked Miguel Cairo to start the inning and then gave up singles to Orlando Palmeiro and J.D. Drew to load the bases. Albert Pujols hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Cairo. Lidge had not been scored on in his previous 10 games covering 9 2/3 innings.

After Scott Rolen struck out, Renteria singled just inside the right-field line to tie the game. Drew, who took third on Renteria's single, scored on Ausmus' first passed ball of the season. Saarloos came in to strike out Mike Matheny to end the inning.

Two St. Louis errors led to an unearned run in the sixth. A low throw by third baseman Rolen put Bagwell on first. Left fielder Pujols booted Berkman's single and Bagwell went to third. Bagwell scored on a Merced's sacrifice fly for a 3-1 Houston lead.

Morris, who struck out three times, batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning. In all, the Cardinals stranded 10 runners.

Notes: Morris allowed six hits and four runs --three earned -- in 7 1-3 innings. Redding gave up one run and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. ... The game was a makeup from a rained out contest on April 6. It was played at night because it was Pujols Bat Day and the Cardinals wanted school-aged children to be able to attend for the promotion. ... It was the second three-error game of the year for St. Louis. ... Kent was back in the lineup Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's game with a bruised left hip. ... The Astros and Cardinals will not play each other again until September when they will play for six games.

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