Williams, a native Houstonian, won his ninth straight decision and Cal Eldred got Houston slugger Jeff Bagwell to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Astros 7-4 Wednesday night.
Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer in the first inning and drove in four runs for the Cardinals. Williams didn’t have pinpoint command of his pitches, but he mastered the Astros for seven innings.
“I say this every time I come home, it’s just nice to sleep in your own bed,” Williams said. “You don’t have to be as sharp. The last few games I haven’t been sharp in the early innings. It’s nice to have that lead going out in the first inning.”
Williams (6-0) hasn’t lost a decision since last Aug. 29 at Cincinnati and he’s built an enviable record at Minute Maid, increasing his record at the stadium to 6-1.
“I just know that family and friends are up there and it’s comfortable for me,” Williams said.
Williams left after giving Morgan Ensberg’s leadoff home run in the eighth. Williams allowed two earned runs and struck out six.
“He wasn’t as sharp but he had the same insides and the same attitude,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
The Astros loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Eldred. But he got his fourth save, getting Bagwell to end it.
“I like being in that situation,” Bagwell said. “I just haven’t been swinging the bat well lately and I swung at a bad pitch. I just didn’t come through. It wasn’t a strike but that’s what happens when you’re not swinging the bat well.”
The Cardinals made quick work of Munro with five runs in the first three innings.
“There’s no excuses,” Munro said. “I threw a lot of strikes but there were not quality strikes and I really left one up to Pujols. It’s just one of those days. I didn’t pitch well.”
“I got lucky, I get lucky sometimes,” Pujols said. “This is a good place to hit but it doesn’t matter where I am. My job is to go out and help the team get runs, no matter where. Our job is to get runs early like we did tonight and take the pressure off of our pitcher.”
Edgar Renteria went 3-for-4 for his NL-leading 22nd multihit game. He had a solo homer in the seventh.
“I know when I’m out there I don’t have to do everything,” Williams said. “There are eight guys playing with me that are giving every single thing they have, it doesn’t matter which pitcher. Any pitcher in this league would like to play for a team that has the support that we do.”
Berkman was caught stealing second and Kent scored on the play when Vina threw wildly to the plate. The Cardinals had not committed an error in 92 2-3 innings before the second baseman’s throw.
Pinch-hitter Orlando Merced hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh for Houston.
Munro went two innings and faced four batters in the third. He allowed sixhits and five runs.
The Cardinals are 26-11 in games Williams has started since joining St. Louis in 2001. … Since he was batting .402 on May 4, Edmonds has gone 9-for-58 (.155) with one home run and three RBIs. … The Cardinals have a league-low 17 errors. … Kirk Saarloos made his first major league reliefappearance in the eighth for Houston.