HOUSTON (AP)—At 36, Reggie Sanders isn’t called on to win many games with his legs anymore.
The St. Louis Cardinals finally needed his long-forgotten speed Thursday night.
Hector Luna’s bunt on a squeeze play scored Sanders in the top of the 12th inning, leading St. Louis to a 2-1 victory over the Houston Astros. The Cardinals are 6-0 on the road this season, the team’s best start since 1941.
“I save up my speed only for important times,” Sanders said, smiling. “At this age, it’s called being smart.”
Sanders, who has turned into more of a slugger in the twilight of his career, was surprisingly swift in the game’s final innings.
The right fielder’s only hit of the night came on a blooper to Jeff Kent at second base, who stumbled as he fielded the ball and tried to flip it to Jeff Bagwell at first. Sanders narrowly outran the throw, drawing boos from the crowd of 33,076.
Sanders then stole second base, got tangled up with Kent at second as the ball dribbled by, and advanced to third. Luna’s bunt drove in Sanders for the winning run.
“That was a nasty pitch that (Luna) had to squeeze on,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
“Luna’s bunt was perfect,” Sanders said. “It’s nice to spark a win in a pitcher’s duel and manufacture some runs like we did tonight.”
Julian Tavarez closed it out in the bottom of the 12th to earn the save.
The Cardinals swept the three-game series against the Astros, getting a little revenge for Houston’s three straight wins in St. Louis last week.
A matchup of the National League’s two top offenses was curbed by dominant performances on the mound.
Until then, Marquis had pitched 10 scoreless innings dating to an 8-4 win over Colorado on April 17. The right-hander allowed only one run on six hits in seven innings Thursday night.
“We really hadn’t seen him before and he kind of kept us off-balance,” said Biggio, who finished 1-for-5. “They didn’t really get a lot of hits either. We knew it was going to be a close game.”
Isringhausen (1-0) picked up his first win of the season, pitching two hitless innings.
Houston’s Roy Oswalt, coming off a complete game three-hitter against Milwaukee last week, also had a strong start.
In seven innings, Oswalt allowed only one run on four hits, but didn’t get enough offensive help to get the victory. Dan Miceli (0-1) picked up the loss, giving up the bunt that scored Sanders.
“This kind of game is what the big leagues are all about,” La Russa said. “These guys were playing like it was September.”
The Astros had their chances to score in the sixth when Jeff Bagwell lined a shot to center that sent Adam Everett toward third, but Everett was narrowlythrown out on a great throw by Jim Edmonds. Kent singled in the next at-bat.
Biggio made a nice diving catch of Jason Marquis’ pop fly in the third inning. Biggio slid just under an oncoming Adam Everett to come up with the grab. … Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen has hit safely in 12 straight games. … The road team has won all six games in this year’s Astros-Cardinals series. … A fight erupted in the stands between a couple of men in the bottom of the 11th, with one man knocking the other to the ground and raining blows upon his face before police officers came over to break it up. Only one of themen was taken out of the stadium in handcuffs.