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Edmonds, Walker, Sanders go deep to sink Houston

HOUSTON (AP) -- With one swing by Jim Edmonds, the St. Louis Cardinals finally took a lead.

From there, the Cardinals had little trouble remembering how to
win again.

"That got rid of all the tension," Reggie Sanders said after
the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros 7-3 Tuesday night in a
season-opening rematch of the 2004 NL Championship Series. "It
relaxed us."

Edmonds homered in the first inning, and Sanders and Larry Walker also connected for the Cardinals.

St. Louis rallied from a 3-2 series deficit against Houston to
win the NL pennant last October but never held a lead after that,
getting swept by Boston in the World Series.

In this one, the Cardinals went ahead 3-0 on Edmonds' drive and
never trailed, ending Houston's 18-game, regular-season home
winning streak, the longest in the major leagues since Cleveland
won 18 in a row at Jacobs Field in May and June 1994.

Chris Carpenter, who missed the postseason because of nerve
damage in his right biceps, won by allowing one run and four hits
in seven innings.

"He was excellent. He did all the things a pitcher has to do to
be successful," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He got off
to a good start tonight."

Al Reyes, Julian Tavarez and Ray King followed, and Jason
Isringhausen retired Adam Everett on a bases-loaded grounder for
the save.

Shortstop David Eckstein, second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and
catcher Yadier Molina, three newscomers to the St. Louis lineup,
went a combined 2-for-12 with three strikeouts.

But St. Louis had more than enough offense. Edmonds had four
RBI, and Walker went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the seventh.

For Edmonds, it was yet another chance to torment the Astros: He
hit the game-winning homer in the 12th inning of Game 6 last
October.

"Some teams ... you have their number. And some teams you
don't," Sanders said. "Jimmy definitely has Houston's number."

Houston has a new look following an offseason of attrition.
All-Stars Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran departed in free agency, and
All-Star right fielder Lance Berkman tore up a knee playing flag
football and began the season on the disabled list.

That forced the Astros to start two rookie outfielders on
opening day for the first time since 1986.

Making his third straight opening-day start, Roy Oswalt looked
nothing like the guy picked to start over seven-time Cy Young Award
winner Roger Clemens.

Oswalt, the NL's only 20-game winner in 2004, gave up six runs
and seven hits in six innings.

"I felt pretty well, but in between innings I felt pretty
stiff," Oswalt said. "I think I had too much adrenaline going.
I'm not happy about losing, but it's a long season."

Oswalt gave up a one-out single to Walker in the first, a
two-out infield hit to Scott Rolen and Edmonds' homer on a fastball
driven deep into the left-field seats.

Albert Pujols led off the sixth with a single, Rolen doubled and
Edmonds hit a sacrifice fly. Oswalt struck out Grudzielanek, then
gave up a two-run homer to Sanders, which put St. Louis ahead 6-1.

Craig Biggio had three hits and three RBI for the Astros.
Biggio also fielded well at second base, a position he played in
Houston for 11 years before moving to the outfield two years ago to
make room for Kent.

"It's fun to be back at second base," Biggio said. "I made
some double plays with Adam (Everett), and I enjoyed that. No doubt
I still had butterflies."

Game notes
The Astros' rookie outfielders were LF Luke Scott and CF
Willy Taveras. In 1986, it was Eric Bullock and Tony Walker.
Taveras and Scott combined to go 1-for-6, with Taveras scoring a
run in the third. ... Oswalt had won four straight decisions
against St. Louis dating to September 2003. ... The attendance of
43,567 was the third-largest crowd in Minute Maid Park history. The
park's two biggest crowds came Oct. 3-4, 2001, against San
Francisco.