By The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — Win or lose, Lance Berkman seems to always get his hits at Minute Maid Park.
Berkman broke a tie with an RBI single and pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso had a two-run double in St. Louis’ five-run sixth in the Cardinals’ 9-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night.
Berkman, the former Astro who hit a solo homer to break up Bud Norris’ no-hit bid in the seventh inning in the Cardinals’ 4-1 loss Wednesday night, snapped a 1-1 tie with a single off the scoreboard in left after Jon Jay singled and Albert Pujols drew a walk off J.A. Happ (3-8).
Mark Hamilton’s fielder’s choice grounder to second baseman Jeff Keppinger scored Pujols, and Wilton Lopez’s bases-loaded walk brought home Hamilton. Then, Descalso delivered the two-run double to cap the inning.
Berkman added his 15th homer in the ninth.
“I’ve got a different uniform on, but it’s still a great place to hit,” Berkman said. “I’m just trying not to make an out. I’ll enjoy it and try to get ready for the game tomorrow.”
In six games at Minute Maid this season, Berkman is hitting .480 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
Ryan Theriot ended a 20-game hitting streak Wednesday night and started another with a double and his first homer. He’s been watching Berkman.
“Lance has had a great year and I don’t think he’s just picking on the Astros, he’s picking on everybody,” Theriot said. “He’s swung the bat well and been consistent particularly well here but he’s played a lot of games here and he’s comfortable here.”
Lance Lynn (1-1), a former Ole Miss standout, benefited from the big inning. He pitched five innings, allowed six hits and one run. He walked three and struck out three.
The Astros left the bases loaded with one out in the third. Brett Wallace struck out and Chris Johnson hit into a forceout. Houston loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and managed one run on Keppinger’s groundout.
“The first three innings felt like the longest innings of my life,” Lynn said. “After that I started getting into a rhythm and throwing more strikes and throwing good pitches. I stopped giving them pitches to hit.”
Happ pitched 5 1-3 innings. He gave up six hits, six earned runs, struck out five and walked two.
“The first five innings Happ threw the ball extremely well and worked out of some things,” Astros manager Brad Mills said. “Offensively, we had some opportunities early in the game. We had our opportunities.”
Theriot doubled down the left-field line to open the game. He was sacrificed to third by Jay and scored on Pujols’ groundout.
Theriot also hit a solo homer in the eighth, and Skip Schumaker had an RBI single in the seventh.
Houston tied it at 1 in the first on single by Brett Wallace, who hit safely for the 12th time in 14 games.
“It’s frustrating,” Happ said. “Six or seven games in a row I start the game and I feel like I’m going to go seven or eight innings.
Whatever my terrible record, whatever my terrible ERA is, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not the pitcher I am.
“I’m going to find a way to figure it out. I felt good and just left a few balls up in the sixth inning and the rest is history.”
Hunter Pence singled with two out in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 20 games. He took second on a wild pitch before scoring on Wallace’s hit.
Pence’s 20-game streak is the longest of his career and the Astros’ longest since Miguel Tejada hit in 21 straight games in 2009. It was little consolation.
“It’s part of the game,” Pence said. “Sometimes you get them, sometimes they get you out.
“He (Lynn) had really good stuff. His fastball jumped out of his hand, kind of effectively wild a little bit. It almost felt like he could locate his curve ball better than his fastball.”
NOTES: St. Louis’ Tony La Russa will manage his 5,000th game Friday night at Milwaukee. He will join Connie Mack (7,755) as the only manager or coach in American professional sports history to reach 5,000 games. … Pujols has hit for extra bases in six straight games. He had his 435th double in the seventh inning to break a tie for second with Hall of Famer Lou Brock on the Cardinals’ career list.