Houston handed Colorado its first shutout at home since 1999 on Thursday, increasing its division lead with a 6-0 victory.
The Rockies had scored in a record 361 consecutive home games since San Diego’s Andy Ashby pitched a six-hitter on July 4, 1999. The previous record was 258 games by the Boston Braves from 1892-1896.
“I wasn’t aware of the streak,” Astros’ starter Wade Miller said. “They told me afterward. Sure, it’s nice. But the thing is, we needed a win here to go back up by a game over Chicago. We have only 10 games left now, so every one is important.”
Jeff Bagwell homered and drove in three runs as the Astros moved a game ahead of the idle Cubs.
“We’re just trying to win games because we know what position we’re in,” said Houston manager Jimy Williams, whose team took two of three from the Rockies.
“It was very critical for us to win the series,” Bagwell said. “The last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about just winning each series we play. If we win all of our series and we don’t win the division, then we didn’t deserve it.”
Cardinals right-hander Matt Morris agrees, and caused a bit of controversy this past Sunday by saying so, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he wants Houston to win the NL Central if the Cardinals don’t.
“I really have a respect for their players,” Morris said of the Astros. “When we compete against them, the games are intense but they don’t have that ‘I want to kill you, I hate you’ attitude. When it’s over, it’s easy to tip your hat to the other side.
“It’s just the way they go about it and the way we go about it. There’s professionalism involved.”
Morris also said he hopes the Cubs don’t get into the playoffs because of an easier September schedule. While the Cardinals and Astros played Sunday and have another series next weekend, the Cubs finish with all sub-.500 teams.
Even after beating Milwaukee 13-0 on Thursday, the Cardinals are five games behind first-place Houston in the NL Central with eight games to go.
Edgar Renteria had four hits and five RBIs as the Cardinals won three of four against the Brewers.
“To be honest with you, it would have been nice a week ago,” said center fielder Jim Edmonds. “Right now, we’re just trying to do anything we can to get a win and however it happens, it happens.”
STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Cardinals - 3rd place, 5 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Roy Oswalt (8-5, 3.20 ERA). On the disabled list three times this year because of groin injuries, Oswalt has won two straight starts since he was last activated. He allowed just four hits in seven innings Saturday night, outpitching Morris in Houston’s 2-0 victory. He is 1-2 with a 3.97 ERA in seven career starts against the Cardinals.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Morris (10-7, 3.54 ERA). Morris was pushed back a day in the rotation so he would line up to open the series with Houston. In his last start, he allowed just two runs in seven innings at Houston on Saturday, but was on the short end of a 2-0 defeat. He is 6-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 19 career starts against the Astros.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 10-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 1B Jeff Kent extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … The Astros scored three runs in the first inning on Thursday to increase their season total to 138 first-inning runs, best in the majors. … The Astros are 75-2 when leading after eight innings. Cardinals - RHP Morris has allowed eight runs over 31 innings pitched—a span of four starts—versus the Astros this year for a 2.32 ERA. … Rookie RHP Dan Haren, who was skipped in the rotation this week, might not make any more starts. He’s pitched 177 innings, starting the year at Double-A Tennessee. … OF Pujols has 204 hits, the most by a Cardinals player since Willie McGee had 216 in 1985.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 38-40 on the road; Cardinals - 46-32 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Journell (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.