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Edmunds drives in four runs vs. Astros

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Tony La Russa waited to write Jim Edmonds' name
on the lineup card until the star outfielder convinced him he was
fit enough to play.

"It was just a matter of health," La Russa said of his
decision to start Edmonds. "If he was sore, I didn't want to send
him out there and he gets ouchy for a lot of days."

Edmonds overcame a sore right ribcage and drove in four runs and
threw out a runner at the third, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to
a 10-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Edmonds almost didn't start after straining his ribcage muscle
during batting practice the previous night, but chose to play --
helping the Cardinals win their sixth in a row.

Edmonds is hitting .322 lifetime against the Astros, and has 12
RBI in 11 games against them this season.

"I wanted him to practice here before I actually write his name
on the card," La Russa said. "I hate scratching guys out and
rewriting the card."

Edmonds said he felt fine and intended to play all along.

"You have to learn how to deal with things sometimes and I can
understand why he was worried," Edmonds said. "I didn't think it
was a real big deal. I just had to talk him into playing. I'm
fine."

Albert Pujols went 4-for-5, and the Cardinals had a season-high
19 hits to move nine games over .500 and remain a game behind NL
Central-leading Cincinnati.

"We're not 10 (over .500) and that's the first time you say
'This is good.' Then you go on to 15 and so forth," La Russa said.
"Pujols is being the normal Pujols now. He's having great
at-bats."

Lance Berkman drove in four runs on two hits for the Astros, who
have lost seven of their last eight against St. Louis.

La Russa served the second of a two-game suspension for his
confrontation with Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon on Thursday. La
Russa watched in street clothes from general manager Walt
Jocketty's private box.

La Russa got credit for his 2,041st win, moving him ahead of
Walt Alston for sixth place on the career list.

St. Louis starter Jason Marquis (5-4) struck out seven in five
innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. He allowed 10 hits
and four runs. Kiko Calero pitched three scoreless innings before
Steve Kline finished in the ninth.

"We couldn't come back against Calero," Houston manager Jimy
Williams said. "He was tough."

The Cardinals chased Tim Redding (3-4) in the fifth inning by
sending 10 men up and scoring four runs to take a 7-4 lead.

Edgar Renteria drew a leadoff walk, Pujols doubled and Scott
Rolen walked to load the bases. Mike Gallo came on in relief and
Edmonds laced his first pitch to left-center for a bases-clearing
double.

"I'm just trying to figure out how to get out of this slump,"
said Edmonds, who is hitting .262. "With the bases loaded there, I
know he's trying to get strike one. I might have gotten lucky, but
I'll take it."

Gallo retired the next two hitters before intentionally walking
rookie Yadier Molina. Roger Cedeno pinch-hit for Marquis and drove
in Edmonds with a single. After Tony Womack reached on an infield
single to load the bases again, Chad Harville relieved Gallo and
got Renteria to line out to Jeff Bagwell at first.

St. Louis added two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by John
Mabry and Molina. It was Molina's first RBI since being called up
Thursday. Molina also blocked the plate on a 9-4-2 play to tag out
Adam Everett.

"He reminds me of Albert," La Russa said of Molina. "This
guy's been playing 10 years somewhere. He plays like he's 30 years
old and has 10 years in the big leagues."

Womack hit a leadoff homer -- his third hit -- in the seventh off
Ricky Stone for a 10-4 lead.

"The wind was blowing out," Womack quipped. "We're playing
good baseball now. We've won this series now and we'll go for the
sweep tomorrow."

St. Louis scored two runs in the second on four hits, including
RBI singles by Mabry and Marquis.

The Astros tied it with two runs in the third on Berkman's
two-run single. Craig Biggio and Everett singled and, one out
later, Jeff Kent singled to load the bases and extend his
career-best hitting streak to 20 games. Berkman followed with his
single to center, but Edmonds threw out Kent trying to take third.

Edmonds' two-out single in the third gave St. Louis a 3-2 lead.

Houston went ahead 4-3 with two outs in the fifth on Berkman's
two-run double.<
^Notes@: Biggio has 533 doubles, one shy of Lou Gehrig for 25th on
the career list. ... After Sunday's game, the two Central Division
rivals won't play each other again until September.