Wigginton powers Astros to 3-0 win over Cardinals
HOUSTON (AP)—Meet Carlos Lee Jr.
No, not the actual son of injured slugger Carlos Lee, but the man who stepped in for the left fielder and supplied the power the Astros were sorely missing once Lee fractured his pinky on Aug. 10.
Houston swept the three-game series with the Cardinals and has won five straight. The Astros finished 21-9 for the month, third best record in the National League behind Chicago and Milwaukee.
“In general, we’ve done a terrific job all the way around this month,” manager Cecil Cooper said. “Pitching well has been the biggest key. But Ty has been tremendous. He’s made people say Carlos who?
“Wiggy’s staying on balls better than he was before. He’s hitting them to center and to right. We don’t have a Carlos Lee now but we have a Carlos Junior.”
Wigginton, who tied the August club record set by Jeff Bagwell in 2000 when he hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning, would have none of that.
“That’s all Coop,” Wigginton said after being told of Cooper’s comment. “Nobody is going to replace Carlos Lee. He’s a great offensive player and has been doing it for a long time.
“When you get good pitching and good defense like we’ve had, good things happen to you.”
Starter Wandy Rodriguez (8-6) left after 5 2-3 innings with a strained right oblique muscle. Club officials said he is day-to-day.
“I felt a pain in my side,” Rodriguez said. “I felt it when I was throwing to Pujols. I was trying to throw him inside and I threw too quick. But I’ll be all right. I don’t plan to miss a start.”
Rodriguez allowed seven hits and no walks, striking out four. He was replaced by Chris Sampson.
Sampson pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings and LaTroy Hawkins came in to pitch a perfect eighth.
Hawkins has now made 14 appearances without allowing a run since coming over in a trade with the Yankees July 30. He has struck out 17 in the 11 innings he has pitched for the Astros.
Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth inning and picked up his 37th save in 43 chances. He has recorded saves in each of his last 10 appearances, the longest streak in the NL this season and an Astros single-season club record.
The Cardinals fell 6 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the wild card race. Before the weekend, they were 3 1/2 games back.
Manager Tony La Russa was thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Mike Winters in the sixth inning. Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick had argued third strike calls in consecutive at bats before La Russa came out and was ejected for the third time this season.
“Was I surprised?” La Russa said. “No. You can’t come out of the dugout to start talking about balls and strikes. I do appreciate the fact that he let me come out and let me explain my side instead of just turning around and going the other way.”
Todd Wellemeyer (11-6) went seven innings and allowed one run and four hits and he had a similar opinion about the balls and strikes.
“All you can do is just smile,” Wellemeyer said. “I saw what he was giving their guy, and I don’t get the corner. But you can’t do anything about it.”
In the first inning, Pence threw out Pujols at second for his 15th outfield assist this season, moving him into the league lead. … Yadier Molina’s single in the fourth gave him an 11-game hitting streak. … The 21 wins are the most in a month for Houston since going 22-7 in July of 2005.