Marquis, Isringhausen shut down Astros in Cards win

HOUSTON (AP) -- Jason Marquis is tied for the NL lead in wins, thanks to a terrific catch by Jim Edmonds.

Marquis shut down the Houston Astros for his 11th win and pinch-hitter John Rodriguez homered in the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

But the talk of both clubhouses after the game was the outstanding catch Edmonds made.

In the fourth inning, with the Cardinals leading 4-1 and a runner on second, Edmonds made an over-the-shoulder grab on a long drive by Eric Munson, just before falling flat on his face on the hill in center field.

"Edmonds' play was huge," Marquis said. "He made that great play to save me from some runs. That helped out a lot and I got my confidence up."

Gary Bennett added a season-high three hits and an RBI for St. Louis. Marquis (11-6) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking two.

The right-hander, who tied Tom Glavine of the New York Mets for the NL lead in wins, was replaced by Jason Isringhausen after Morgan Ensberg walked in the eighth. Isringhausen got four outs for his NL-leading 26th save.

Houston manager Phil Garner agreed that Edmonds' catch was the key.

"It might have dramatically changed the game," Garner said. "We can't hit it much harder in that part of the ballpark without it going out. I'm just tired of seeing him do it."

Edmonds was perhaps the only one who downplayed its significance.

"I can't explain it," he said. "I was just doing my job. I thought I might fall on my face, but I tried to catch the ball first. You shouldn't make too big a deal about this. It's just
another catch."

Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez (9-6) got into trouble early, giving up a double to Scott Rolen leading off the second, followed by two walks to load the bases.

Bennett's RBI single with one out scored Rolen. Juan Encarnacion scored when Rodriguez hit Marquis with a pitch.

Bennett played in place of Yadier Molina, who sat out with a mild concussion after being hit in the back of the head by a pitch

Houston's Lance Berkman made a dazzling defensive play look easy in the third when he chased a foul ball hit by Albert Pujols down the first base line and made the catch as he blew a bubble and immediately fell backward into the first row of the stands. As he walked away, Berkman laughed with the fans he fell into as a couple of them pointed and smiled at him.

In the fourth, St. Louis extended its lead to 3-0 on David Eckstein's RBI single. So Taguchi followed with another single that scored Marquis.

Wandy Rodriguez lasted five innings, giving up seven hits and four runs with three walks and two strikeouts. He was replaced by Fernando Nieve, who gave up John Rodriguez's pinch-hit homer in the seventh. It was his first home run of the season.

Marquis gave up only one hit before Berkman and Preston Wilson
hit doubles in the fourth. Wilson's RBI double made it 4-1.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was impressed with Marquis' performance but thinks the pitcher can only get better.

"He really mixed up his pitches and he did it from the first inning on," La Russa said. "They didn't know what to expect. You have to realize, this is his third year in the rotation and he's still learning. Three or four years from now he's going to be a savvy veteran."

Marquis said he was looking to return to his old form.

"I was just trying to get back to the old mechanics I had in 2004," he said. "That's when I was being aggressive and I wanted to go back to that. I was able to get ahead of a lot of hitters and do what I wanted to do."

Ensberg hit his 19th homer off Marquis in the sixth to make it 4-2.

In the ninth, Russ Springer issued a bases-loaded walk that scored John Rodriguez before giving up a two-run single to Hector Luna.

Game notes
The Cardinals designated right-hander Sidney Ponson for assignment and added right-hander Jeff Weaver to the 25-man roster. ... Wilson has doubled in five of his last eight games and has hit two doubles in three of those games. ... La Russa said Molina was still a bit dizzy from his concussion. ... Pujols went 0-for-4 with one intentional walk.