Just when the Houston Astros were beginning to wonder whether they could counter Jim Edmonds and the St. Louis Cardinals, along came Richard Hidalgo and Yorkis Perez.
Hidalgo homered, doubled twice and drove in three runs as the Astros beat St. Louis 7-5 Wednesday night, ending the Cardinals' four-game winning streak.
"It was a relief to get a win, it was also a relief to see the Cardinals aren't perfect," Astros manager Larry Dierker said. "We knew if we could get Edmonds out and come up with some offense we might be able to finally get a win against those guys."
Hidalgo hit his fourth home run and also walked as the Astros stopped a three-game slide. He hit a tiebreaking, two-run double in the seventh.
Perez backed Edmonds off the plate with his first pitch before getting him on a 3-2 slider.
"I think part of the problem we're having is their hitters were too comfortable," Perez said. "I wanted to claim my part of the plate."
Edmonds walked in the sixth to tie the club record for consecutive times reaching base (12) set by Chick Hafey in 1929.
"I'm seeing the ball well and I'm putting it in play," Edmonds said. "It's just one of those things in baseball. Baseball is a game of streaks and I was in the middle of one. It's nice, it's special but I don't want to brin too much attention to myself."
Moises Alou and Tim Bogar also homered for the Astros and Thomas Howard connected for the Cardinals. Mark McGwire and J.D. Drew did not start for St. Louis.
"Edmonds just destroyed us in this series," Bogar said. "It's only April, but we needed to get one win from those guys just so they'll have it in the back of their minds the next time we meet that we can beat them."
During this six-game homestand at new Enron Field, the Astros and their opponents combined for 24 home runs.
With the game tied at 5 in the seventh, Hidalgo doubled off the left-field wall against Dave Wainhouse (0-1). Roger Cedeno, who reached on shortstop Edgar Renteria's throwing error, and Bill Spiers, who walked, both scored.
"Last year I tried to pull the ball too much," Hidalgo said. "This year I'm trying to hit it more to center. I think that has really helped me."
Said Dierker: "He's the only guy we've got who's hot right now. And he's hotter than hot."
Howard homered for the second straight night, a two-run shot that scored Edmonds and put the Cardinals ahead 5-4 in the sixth. Howard also had an RBI triple.
Bogar's home run in the Houston sixth tied it.
Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his third save.
Cardinal starter Andy Benes went five innings, allowing five hits and four runs. He struck out nine.
"It's always satisfying if your club plays every game hard and you win a series against a good club on the road," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
Houston's Octavio Dotel lasted six innings. He gave up five runs and nine hits.
Edmonds homered in the second. Hidalgo and Alou hit consecutive home runs in the bottom half.
The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Edmonds lined Dotel's first pitch off the wall in right-center and scored when Howar followed with a triple to right. Craig Paquette singled home Howard.
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