Even Houston's pitcher drives in four


HOUSTON (AP) -- Wade Miller was glad he had a career night
hitting because he certainly wasn't pleased with his pitching.

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

"My pitching wasn't that good after the fourth inning," Miller
said. "I'm just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of the
hitters, and I just couldn't do it. My pitch count was up, and I
wasn't pleased with that."

At least he had two doubles.

"I'm sitting there looking fastball hoping I can get the head
out. I just got lucky I guess," Miller said.

The Astros roughed up Woody Williams and finished with a
season-high 19 hits, remaining a game ahead of the Chicago Cubs in
the NL Central. St. Louis dropped 3½ off the pace.

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

"It feels good to come out and win the game and hit the ball
the way we did today, especially against Woody," Miller said.
"He's pitched good against us the past few years."

Miller 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.

"Miller set the tone by the way he pitched," Astros manager
Jimy Williams said. "We scored early, and we had contributions all
up and down the lineup. He got hits in key situations. I guess it
got contagious."

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

"There's not much to say; he pitched a great game," Jim
Edmonds said. "He's the same old guy. He always throws well
against us."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa couldn't get anything to work.

"It was not a good time to have it; it was an embarrassing
game," La Russa said. "In this league, you do or you don't. I
know the feeling in this clubhouse before the game. This club was
ready to play.

"I'm telling you straight out, the feeling in this clubhouse
was outstanding to compete to start this game."

Hidalgo went 4-for-5, equaling his career high for hits, which he has
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.

"They hit some bad pitches good," Williams said. "They fouled
off a bunch of good pitches, too. They battled; they came out ready
to play. You can't take that away from them."

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

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 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.

Game notes
The Cardinals are 39-19 when 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