<
>

Albert's great again: Pujols homer lifts Cardinals in 10

HOUSTON (AP) -- Despite trailing by two with two outs in the
ninth inning, Albert Pujols wasn't ready to give up.

Scott Spiezio hit a solo homer off Brad Lidge to pull within a
run. Chris Duncan singled and David Eckstein walked before Aaron
Miles' RBI single tied the score. Pujols then opened the 10th
inning with a solo home run off Roy Oswalt, lifting the St. Louis
Cardinals to a 7-6 win over the Houston Astros Saturday.

"I was just thinking that the game's not over until you get 27
outs and I think a lot of things can happen in this game," Pujols
said. "You saw it right there. We just tied the game against one
of the best closers in the major leagues and that's why you can't
take these games for granted."

Oswalt (6-6), in his first relief appearance since Aug. 24,
2004, gave up the home run to right field on his second pitch. It
was Pujols' 29th homer of the season and gave the Cardinals
consecutive victories for the first time since winning three
straight June 16-18.

"It was a great win," Pujols said. "Hopefully this is the win
we were looking for and we can turn some things around here."

Lidge will now have to deal with another failure against the
Cardinals after being dogged by questions about his mind-set since
Pujols' three-run homer that gave St. Louis a 5-4 win in Game 5 of
the 2005 NL championship series.

"I feel bad about putting Roy into that situation," Lidge
said. "Obviously he doesn't come into the game at all if I don't
blow a save. This was my fault absolutely. I'm pretty disappointed
with myself."

National League saves leader Jason Isringhausen (3-4) pitched a
perfect ninth and 10th for the win.

"It looked like we were down and out," Spiezio said. "But we
had just talked about, keep going until that last out's made --
until the last strike. Don't try to be a hero, just try to get on
get something started."

The score was tied at 4 when Lance Berkman hit a two-run single
in the seventh inning. Berkman, the NL RBI leader with 79, hit the
ball just over the head of Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright with
the bases loaded in the seventh to score Willy Taveras and Biggio.
He also had a run-scoring single in the first.

Astros starter Roger Clemens, vying for his 343rd career win,
received a no-decision after leaving with the score tied at 4
through six innings. The seven-time Cy Young winner allowed two
earned runs and six hits. He struck out three and walked one in his
fourth start of the season.

"I was just constantly making adjustments while I was out
there," Clemens said. "I was just trying to do as much as I can.
I'll have some time during the break to make more adjustments,
continue to work hard and get stronger each time out."

In the first, Clemens allowed two consecutive singles before
John Rodriguez scored after first baseman Mike Lamb couldn't scoop
up a grounder by Scott Rolen.

The Cardinals made it 2-0 when Pujols scored on a force out.

The Astros pulled to 2-1 with Berkman's RBI single in the bottom
of the first, but rookie starter Anthony Reyes got out of the
inning with a double play.

Clemens threw just 10 pitches in the second inning thanks to
Reyes bunting into a double play. He retired three straight batters
in the third before things went a bit downhill in the fourth.

Jim Edmonds hit an RBI double, that landed just short of the
wall in center field, before scoring on a single by Gary Bennett to
extend the Cardinals' lead to 4-1.

Reyes faced the minimum in the second, third and fourth innings,
but gave up a double to Chris Burke to lead off the fifth. He
walked Brad Ausmus with one out before a sacrifice by Clemens sent
Burke to third.

Biggio then hit a full-count three-run shot to left field to tie
the game at 4. Burke looked back to watch it fly into the stands
before lifting his fist in jubilation and slowly trotting home.

The home run was Biggio's 2,884th career hit, moving him into a
tie with Zack Wheat for 34th on the all-time list.

Reyes allowed five hits and four runs with four strikeouts and
three walks in five innings.

An obviously angry Berkman said he was frustrated at the loss.

"There's no excuse for losing that game today," he said.
"There was an absolute poor job on our part. If we continue to do
that we might as well make vacation plans."

Game notes
Houston leads the majors in double plays turned this season
with 107. ... Biggio has 268 career home runs. ... With three
strikeouts on Saturday, Clemens increased his career total to
4,517. ... Cardinals C Yadier Molina entered the game in the bottom
of the ninth. It was his first appearance since suffering a mild
concussion after being hit in the head by a pitch Thursday.