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Astros Get To Garcia, End Up Splitting Series

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UPI/Bill Greenblatt

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Wandy Rodriguez pitched seven innings and retired the last 13 batters he faced and Jason Bourgeois hit a tiebreaking double in the fifth inning to lead the Houston Astros to a 5-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

Rodriguez (7-7) allowed just one earned run and five hits. He walked Matt Holliday with one out in the fourth before settling into a groove. He got David Freese to hit into a double play to end the fourth, then pitched four perfect innings before Sergio Escalona and Mark Melancon finished up. Melancon got his tenth save in 13 opportunities.

Jaime Garcia (10-5), who entered the game with an NL-best home record of 6-1, gave up four earned runs in six innings.

Carlos Lee hit his tenth homer of the season and third in the last seven games for the Astros.

Michael Bourn extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games with two hits. He also walked twice. Hunter Pence hit two doubles.

Albert Pujols, who went 2 for 4, moved to within two hits of 2,000. He is aiming to become the 263rd player in history to hit that mark and the fifth St. Louis player to do so.

Houston scored twice in the fourth and once in the fifth to erase a 3-1 deficit. Lee doubled in Pence to cut the deficit to 3-2. Lee advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Garcia and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Chris Johnson.

The Astros capitalized on a throwing error by Freese at third to take the lead for good 4-3 in the sixth. Wandy Rodriguez reached on the error and scored on Bourgeois’ two-out double that bounced off the bag at third.

Lee added a solo homer in the sixth to push the lead to 5-3.

St. Louis, which lost for the third time in eight games, took a 3-1 lead in the third on back-to-back doubles by Jon Jay and Pujols.

Houston rookie second baseman Jose Altuve, who had hit safely in his first seven games, went 0 for 4, but drove in Bourn with a first-inning sacrifice fly.

St. Louis starters Gerald Laird and Nick Punto, along with Tony Cruz who entered for Laird, all left the game early. Laird, the starting catcher, had a mild strain of the ring finger on his left hand while sliding at the plate in the second inning. Punto, who started at second base, strained his left oblique during his third-inning at-bat. Cruz got hit by a foul tip off the bat of Johnson in eighth.

NOTES … The Astros are 2-5 in a season-longest 10-game road trip that concludes with three games this weekend in Milwaukee. … St. Louis OF Lance Berkman, who leads the NL with 27 home runs, missed his second game since straining his right shoulder on Tuesday. … Punto batted in the leadoff spot for the eighth time this season. …Ryan Theriot, who has led off 81 times, was moved to the No. 7 spot and is in an 0 for 14 skid.

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