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Houston's Miller throws first career shutout

9/15/2002

HOUSTON (AP) -- Wade Miller got the first shutout of his career
and extended his winning streak to an NL-best 11 straight decisions.

It's going to take a lot more for the Houston Astros to win the NL Central.

Miller (14-3) pitched a three-hitter, and Lance Berkman drove in four
runs as Houston beat Matt Morris and the St. Louis Cardinals 8-0 on Sunday.

The victory cut St. Louis' lead in the NL Central to 6½ games
and gave the Astros a split in the four-game series.

"We obviously need a little miracle right here for it to
happen,'' Miller said. "Things aren't like, St. Louis is going out
there and lose the rest of their games. They're a good team and
they'll win some games. Hopefully, we can win a lot and they can
lose a lot.''

Miller's 11-game winning streak, which includes three
no-decisions, is the longest in the NL this season. He hasn't lost
since June 26 against Arizona. It was Miller's fourth complete
game.

The right-hander took charge early, retiring his first 11
batters before Jim Edmonds' two-out triple in the fourth. He struck
out nine and didn't walk a batter.

Scott Rolen and Kerry Robinson got the other hits for St. Louis.

"It's the best stuff I've had all year and the best stuff for
my whole career probably,'' Miller said. "I made a couple of
mistakes today, one to Edmonds, but I was able to keep the ball
down and keep it on the corners.''

Jeff Bagwell isn't expecting miracles, just luck.

"I wouldn't say miracle,'' Bagwell said. "Miracle is a pretty
strong word, but we're going to have to be very lucky. In reality
it's not over, but we're looking for a ton of help.''

Berkman went 4-for-5 with a solo homer in the fourth inning, his
41st of the season. Berkman also had a two-run single in the eighth
inning and an RBI double in the first. He leads the NL with 123
RBI.

"He did just about everything but take tickets today,'' Astros
manager Jimy Williams said. "He did an awful lot of things out
there. Driving in runs, hit a home run, threw out a guy at the
plate. He really had a stellar day.''

Berkman preserved the 5-0 lead in the sixth inning when he
caught Eli Marrero's fly and threw out Robinson at home with
catcher Brad Ausmus blocking the plate.

Berkman made a diving catch in right field in the seventh on a
flyball by Albert Pujols.

"A split in this series is not good,'' Berkman said. "The
Cardinals go to Colorado now and we have to hope for some help.''

Brian Hunter also drove in a run in the eighth.

Morris (16-8) couldn't match Miller's early proficiency. Craig
Biggio singled in the first and scored from there on Berkman's
double over right fielder Marrero's head for a 1-0 lead.

"I just didn't pitch well,'' Morris said. "We could have
pulled away. I'm upset. I just didn't make pitches. I wasn't sharp
today and that's it.''

Berkman singled and Bagwell walked to start the third, and
Daryle Ward's double to the left-field corner scored both runners.
Ward took third on left fielder Pujols' fielding error.

Mark Loretta hit an RBI double to left field for a 4-0 lead.

After yielding Berkman's homer and walking Bagwell in the
fourth, Morris was replaced by Gabe Molina. Morris pitched 3 2-3
innings, his shortest outing of the season. He gave up five runs
and nine hits.

"We had three really tight games,'' Cardinals manager Tony La
Russa said. "Today, it was all Wade Miller. If I had my cap on, I
would tip it to him.''

Game notes
The Cardinals lead the season series 11-4, including a 6-3
record at Houston. The teams play again next weekend in St. Louis.
... Pujols has a nine-game hitting streak. ... Loretta is hitting
.404 since joining the Astros on Aug. 31 in a trade with Milwaukee.