ST. LOUIS (AP)—Skip Schumaker sat and waited for a ball over the plate. When the right pitch finally came from Houston reliever Wesley Wright in the ninth inning Saturday, the Cardinals’ left fielder simply put it in play.
Schumaker’s base hit to left scored pinch-runner Cesar Izturis with the winning run, allowing St. Louis to snap the Astros’ six-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory.
Wright had relieved Dave Borkowski (0-1), who walked Brian Barton to start the ninth. Barton was forced out at second on Adam Wainwright’s bunt, and after Brendan Ryan singled to center and Izturis came on to run for Wainwright, Astros manager Cecil Cooper made the pitching change.
“I just tried to get a ball over the plate,” said Schumaker, the first batter Wright faced. “I put it in play and it worked out.”
It was a testy affair throughout, with the two teams nearly coming to blows in the third inning when Wainwright threw behind Astros catcher Brad Ausmus. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied but no punches were thrown.
The purpose pitch came after Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue was hit on the inside of his jersey by Houston starter Roy Oswalt in the second inning on a 2-2 pitch, and Albert Pujols was thrown an inside fastball that moved him off the plate in the first inning.
Cooper was certain the pitch from Wainwright was intentional.
“That guy (Wainwright) is one of the best pitchers in the league,” the Astros manager said. “He doesn’t have control problems.”
Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa had another explanation.
“It happens,” LaRussa said. “The umpiring chief took care of it and we just played baseball. I don’t think there was intent on either side.”
Wainwright (3-1) allowed only five hits—three of them solo homers—and struck out six while walking two in the complete game. Lance Berkman was responsible for two of the homers, his 22nd career multihomer game.
“It was a battle the entire game,” said Wainwright, who threw 127 pitches. “It was a great game. They really played hard. It’s just a huge win.”
Houston went on top 1-0 in the first when Kaz Matsui hit his first home run of the season, but St. Louis came back from the benches-clearing top half of the third with a big inning to take control of the game.
Glaus, whose 15 RBIs without a homer leads the major leagues, was back in the lineup after leaving Friday night’s game with watery eyes and blurred vision. The team said he is suffering from allergic conjunctivitis, more commonly known as Pink Eye.
The Astros cut the lead to 3-2 in the fourth when Berkman hit his seventh home run, and his solo shot in the seventh tied the game.
“Two pitches he got up,” Berkman said. “Whenever you face a guy like him, if you don’t capitalize on those than you’re not going to get anything done.”
Oswalt, who had won his last two decisions, lasted six innings and allowed five hits and three runs with three walks.
“It’s a good win,” Schumaker said, “especially against one of the best pitchers in the league in Oswalt.”
With Pujols’ walk in the first, he has reached base in all 25 games this season. In 2005, his best start to a season, he reached base safely his first 33 games. … The Cardinals improved to 3-6 this season after giving up the first run of the game.