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Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2003 1:56 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
St. Louis Cardinals
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R H E
2 7 0
Houston Astros
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R H E
3 6 0
W Dotel (1-1)
L Morris (0-1)
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HOUSTON 3, ST LOUIS 2
 

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Jeff Kent is proving his worth to the Houston Astros .

Kent hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Astros to a dramatic 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 2000 National League MVP who signed a two-year $182.2 million contract in the offseason, Kent had not homered since hitting a solo shot on Opening Day.

"He's a good hitter," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "He's certainly exemplified that in the last five or six years. His numbers reflect that. The one thing that I see, from my observations, is that he likes key situations. He likes men out there on those bases."

Trailing 2-1, the Astros were able to rally against Matt Morris (0-1), who retired the first two batters in the ninth.

Lance Berkman reached on a bad-hop single past first baseman Tino Martinez . Kent followed by driving a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall.

"His breaking ball wasn't really on tonight," Kent said. "I think that made him throw more fastballs. At 3-1, I don't think he wanted to put the tying run in scoring position. So I was expecting that (a fastball)."

"Today the ball was in my hands, it came down to the wire and I made a bad pitch," Morris said. "The same pitch got hit for a home run twice. I got behind in the count, tried to throw a down-and-away sinker, but the ball came back over the white and these guys don't miss those too often."

The winning homer came off Morris' 119th pitch and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the matchup dictated his decision to leave him on the mound.

"It was disappointing," La Russa said. "If he doesn't get those two guys out to start the inning, then we have (lefthander Steve) Kline ready to come in and face Berkman. But we still thought he could get (Berkman) out."

Jim Edmonds hit a solo homer in the first for the Cardinals, who lost for the fifth time in their last six games. Edmonds set a franchise record with an extra base hit in his eighth straight game to start a season.

Octavio Dotel (1-1) allowed a hit and a walk in the ninth for the win. Three relievers for the Astros combined on four scoreless innings.

The Cardinals had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Albert Pujols was on third with two outs, but Eli Marrero flied out to center field off righthander Brad Lidge .

"I just knew with the part of the lineup that I was facing [(Miguel) Cairo, (Edgar) Renteria, and Edmonds] that I needed to get ahead of the hitters," Ridge said. "Don't fall behind those guys because they can really get something started when you do that."

There was one out in the bottom half when Jeff Bagwell drove the ball to deep right field, but Marrero caught it against the wall for the second out.

Berkman followed by hitting a hard shot at Martinez. The ball deflected off the first baseman's bare hand, allowing the potential third out to reach and bring Kent to the plate.

"That ball was just blistered," Morris said. "Berkman is just another great hitter and they are loaded with them over there. He hit it right at him and it took a bad hop. Tino makes that play if it is a true hop. But that is just the way the cookie crumbles."


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