HOUSTON (AP) -A three-run deficit doesn't scare a team that's playing its best baseball of the season.
That's why the
didn't panic when they got behind by three in the first inning.
hit home runs during a six-run first inning and the
held on for an 8-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.
''It was early in the game,'' Pence said of the three runs
gave up. ''And you know Moehler's going to battle. He ended up pitching a great game for us. You know he's a gutsy guy and
he's aggressive and going to give us a chance. We just had to get some runs for him.''
Moehler (10-5) went six innings and allowed three runs and seven hits, striking out a season-high tying six. He improved to
4-0 in seven career starts against the Cardinals.
''Moehler did a little bit of bending,'' manager
said. ''He did a great job of keeping us close.''
In the third inning, the Cardinals got a double play on what appeared to be a missed call by second base umpire Marvin Hudson.
Pence was on second with one out when
hit a liner to center field, where
dove for the ball.
Schumaker jumped up as if he'd made the catch and threw to shortstop
to double up Pence. As Cooper argued the call with Hudson, replays clearly showed the ball bounced into Schumaker's glove.
Cooper was ejected from the game. It was his fifth ejection of the season.
''I was sitting in my seat and saw it,'' Cooper said. ''I'm an old man and I saw it with my natural eyes. He blew it and he
refused to get help. That's the thing that upset me. He said he saw it as no catch.
''That took a run off the board for us and probably at least a double away from a kid who's scratching for hits.''
Schumaker admitted the ball hit the ground.
''I didn't really know what the deal was,'' he said. ''I knew it short-hopped me and I popped up like I caught it. I knew
it was a short-hop. I also knew it was a tough one. It was up to the umpire and it was a tough call for him to make.''
Tony La Russa
was more concerned with the rough start by
Looper (12-11) went 4 1-3 innings and allowed eight runs and 11 hits and three walks to take the loss.
''He was just up,'' La Russa said. ''That's not his game or anybody's game and he got it up and got nailed.
Looper had no excuses.
''Basically, the guys put three runs on the board for me and if I did my job we would have had a good chance to win the game,''
he said. ''Unfortunately, I didn't.
''I just had to make an adjustment and get the ball down. I kept trying to pound the strike zone and get ahead, and I was
just missing a lot and falling behind. When you do that, they're going to make you pay.''
The Astros won their fourth straight and improved to 20-9 in the month of August, third best in the National league behind
Chicago and Milwaukee.
pitched a perfect eighth and
pitched the ninth for his 36th save in 42 tries. Valverde has saves in each of his last nine appearances.
St. Louis jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Ankiel's three-run homer in the first inning. It was his 25th of the season.
Wigginton, who leads the majors in August home runs with 11, hit his 20th of the year, a two-run shot in the first to narrow
the Cardinals lead.
's RBI double then tied it and Pence hit a three-run homer for a 6-3 lead.
then doubled before Looper was able to record his first outs, a grounder by Quintero and a strikeout of Moehler.
Blum's two-run homer gave Houston an 8-3 lead in the fifth.
went 4-for-4 with his 29th homer, a two-run shot in the seventh.
Notes After getting a single in the first inning, Pujols' double in the third was his 1,500th career hit. ... Blum extended
his career high with his 13th homer. His previous best was 11 in 2000. ... Molina's hit in the second gave him a 10-game hitting
streak. ... The errorless game gave Houston 96 for the season, tying the 2002 team for third best in team history. The 2006
team had 102 errorless games and 2005 had 97. Houston's 58 errors are the fewest in the NL.