ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Brad Ausmus will have trouble topping this one.
The Houston Astros catcher hit a grand slam in the first inning,
a solo shot in the 12th and threw out three baserunners in a 6-5
victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. "It certainly is the best game I have enjoyed in the big
leagues on a personal level," Ausmus said. "Not on a team level,
but it was just one of those days for me, I guess. "Usually it takes me a month to do all that." With two runners on in the bottom of the 12th, rookie Brad Lidge
struck out Albert Pujols on a 3-2 pitch and Ausmus threw out
Fernando Vina trying to steal third to end it.
Earlier in the inning, Ausmus blocked what would been a wild
pitch to keep Vina at first. The catcher threw out a runner in each of the last three innings
to help hold the Cardinals at bay. "I don't know if you could have a much better game than he
had," Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "I really don't. That's
an outstanding ballgame." Jim Edmonds went 4-for-4 with two home runs, two doubles and his
first four RBIs of the season to bring the Cardinals back from a
five-run first-inning deficit. "His night speaks for itself," manager Tony La Russa said
tersely. Ausmus hit a 1-1 pitch from Russ Springer (0-1) over the
left-field wall leading off the 12th for his first career
multihomer game. It was his second five-RBI game, both against the
Cardinals, who lost for the first time this season. "I just left the ball out over the plate and he did what he was
supposed to do with it," Springer said. "It started out away and
ended up middle-in." Before the homer, St. Louis pitchers retired 16 of 17 batters.
It was the Astros' first hit since Ausmus singled with two outs in
the sixth. Ricky Stone (1-0) worked a scoreless 11th inning, and Lidge got
three outs for his first career save. Lidge was working for the
third straight day. "I didn't really want to go to him," Williams said. "He got
up to throw and said he felt good, so I brought him in.
Fortunately, it worked out for us." Ausmus' second career slam, and first since 1997, capped a
five-run first. All of the runs off Brett Tomko were unearned after
right fielder Eli Marrero dropped Craig Biggio's liner for an error
to start the game. Jeff Bagwell hit an RBI single and Lance Berkman and Richard
Hidalgo walked before Ausmus' slam off the foul pole in left. Edmonds answered with an RBI double off Brian Moehler in the
bottom of the first. Edmonds hit his first homer with the bases
empty in the third, and he and Pujols homered on consecutive
pitches in the fifth to tie it. Edmonds' homer to straightaway center was a two-run shot that
scored Vina, who doubled with one out. Edmonds doubled with one out in the seventh before leaving for a
pinch-runner. He missed three weeks of spring training with a left
calf injury and has yet to play a complete game. Tomko righted himself after the first, giving up just three hits
over the next five innings. Moehler lasted 4 2-3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.Game notes
Edmonds has 16 career two-homer games, the last coming
April 12, 2002, against the Astros. He has 13 career four-hit
games, the last on May 14, 2002, against the Cubs. ... Biggio got
his 2,300th career hit with an infield single to start the fifth.
... The Cardinals' best start was 7-0 in 1962. ... Bagwell is
7-for-22 against Tomko with five homers and 12 RBIs. ... Cardinals
rookie reliever Kiko Calero worked a perfect eighth and ninth. In
his first inning, he retired Bagwell, Berkman and Jeff Kent. ...
The Astros were 6-13 against the Cardinals last year.