Astros clobber fading Redbirds

Saturday, September 13, 2003

HOUSTON -- Jeff Bagwell homered, Richard Hidalgo had four hits and pitcher Wade Miller drove in a career-high four runs as the Houston Astros routed the Cardinals 14-5 in the opener of a big three-game series Friday night.

The Astros roughed up Woody Williams and finished with 19 hits, remaining a game ahead of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. St. Louis dropped 3 1/2 off the pace.

Miller allowed two runs and two hits in six innings. He also went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and boosted his RBI total for the year to six.

He had an RBI double in the second, his grounder scored a run in the third and he added a two-run double in a five-run fourth inning. He's hitting .166 this season.

Bagwell started the fourth with his 34th homer off Williams (15-9). Adam Everett had an RBI double and Geoff Blum added an RBI single in the inning, giving the Astros an 11-0 lead.

Miller (13-12) didn't allow a hit until Albert Pujols doubled in the fourth, and he didn't give up a run until Mike Matheny's seventh homer in the fifth. Pinch-hitter Bo Hart's sacrifice fly got the second run home in the sixth.

Miller won for the eighth time in his last 11 decisions. He has won four straight against the Cardinals and has an 8-3 career record against them. The right-hander walked four and struck out five.

Hidalgo went 4-for-5, equaling his career high for hits accomplished six times, most recently July 18 against Cincinnati. Hidalgo had two doubles, a triple and a single. Everett tied his career high with three hits.

St. Louis' So Taguchi hit a two-run homer, the first of his career, off Rick White in the seventh inning. Kerry Robinson had an RBI triple in the eighth.

Williams has lost six of his last seven decisions. He snapped a career-high five-game losing streak Saturday in a 13-6 victory over Cincinnati, but the Astros jumped on him early.

Williams walked Craig Biggio and hit Blum with a pitch to start the game. Jeff Kent's high-hopper to shortstop Edgar Renteria scored a run, and a three-run second inning put Williams in a deep hole.

Hidalgo led off with a double and, after Brad Ausmus popped out, the Astros scored on three consecutive hits -- doubles by Everett and Miller and a single by Biggio.

Hidalgo tripled in the third and scored on third baseman Scott Rolen's error on a dribbler by Brad Ausmus. He went to third on Everett's second straight double and scored when Renteria's throw to the plate was late for a 6-0 lead.

Williams entered 8-2 lifetime against the Astros, but he didn't get through the fourth. He pitched 3 2-3 innings, allowing nine runs -- eight earned -- and eight hits. He also walked three in his shortest outing of the season.

Notes: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa needs eight wins to tie Leo Durocher for seventh on the career list. ... The Cardinals are 39-19 in games Williams starts dating to his acquisition in 2001. ... Miller has held Pujols to the lowest average of any pitcher who has faced him at least 20 times. Pujols struck out looking at a curve in the first inning and finished 1-for-3. ... Hidalgo leads major league outfielders with 21 assists.

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