Renteria singles home winning run in 10th


HOUSTON (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have built themselves a
nice cushion in the NL Central.

Edgar Renteria hit an RBI single in the 10th inning as St. Louis
beat Houston 3-2 Friday night to end Roy Oswalt's nine-game winning
streak and extend its lead over the second-place Astros to 6½

"We came in and played them tough,'' Cardinals second baseman
Fernando Vina said. "We faced one of the best pitchers in the
league and we were able to get a win.''

Renteria had three hits and two RBI for the Cardinals, who have
won eight of nine.

Albert Pujols led off the 10th against Tom Gordon (1-3) with a
double to the left-center gap. Pinch-runner Eli Marrero went to
third on a throwing error by Gordon, who turned and made a pickoff
throw to second with no one covering the bag.

"There were a lot of key dramatic moments on both sides,''
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The pitching was just
really good on both sides.''

Marrero scored on Renteria's ground single to left.

"I was trying to hit a flyball but he threw me a sinker,''
Renteria said. "I knew these games would be close, with Oswalt
pitching. He's one of the best pitchers in the National League. I
didn't think we'd score many runs, so we had to play good defense
and we did.''

Rick White (3-6) pitched two innings for the victory. Jason
Isringhausen worked the 10th for his 30th save in 34 chances.

Oswalt had won nine straight starts. The Cardinals kept him from
becoming the seventh Astros pitcher to win 20 games in a season.

"It's big,'' Oswalt said. "The thing for us was to sweep this
series. Now we've got to take the next two and hopefully go there
(St. Louis) and sweep them there.''

Oswalt got a no-decision and threw a season-high 120 pitches. He
allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked three before
leaving with the score tied at 2 after seven innings.

Oswalt has not lost since July 16 against the Pittsburgh

Back-to-back defensive plays by J.D. Drew kept the score tied at
2 in the fifth inning. Craig Biggio led off with a double and Lance
Berkman walked before Drew retreated to the right-field wall and
made a perfectly timed leap to deny Jeff Bagwell a three-run homer.

Daryle Ward then flied out to Drew, who threw out Biggio at the
plate to end the inning.

"Those plays Drew made in the one inning, they were two
defensive plays that really stopped us,'' Astros manager Jimy
Williams said. "It's always about pitching and defense. We got a
lot of good pitching from both sides. We had our chances.''

Oswalt escaped the seventh and kept the score tied at 2 when
Pujols hit into a double play with no outs and two runners on and
Scott Rolen flied out.

The Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning off
Jason Simontacchi, who gave up a single to Brian Hunter, hit Biggio
with a pitch and allowed a single by Lance Berkman.

The right-hander escaped with just one run. After Bagwell took a
called third strike, Daryle Ward hit an RBI single, Mark Loretta
popped out and Jose Vizcaino grounded out.

The Astros loaded the bases again in the third inning with one
out but got only one run again for a 2-0 lead. Mark Loretta hit a
sacrifice fly, and Berkman was thrown out trying to go to third
base on the same play.

The Cardinals tied it at 2 in the fourth on Rolen's RBI double
to left field and a run-scoring single by Renteria.

Game notes
Vina has reached base in 51 of his last 57 games since the
All-Star break. He doubled to start the game. ... Hunter ended the
third inning with a diving catch in center field on a sinking drive
by Drew.