Right from the start, Jose Jimenez couldn't get anyone out.
Jimenez, coming off a no-hitter in his last outing, gave up singles to the first two batters he faced Wednesday night and the Houston Astros went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-3.
Jimenez (4-8), who shut down Arizona last Friday, was tagged for seven earned runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings. The Astros scored four times in the first against the rookie, keyed by singles from Craig Biggio and Derek Bell. Five of the first six Astros hitters reached base.
La Russa was impressed with winner Mike Hampton.
Â"Give credit where credit is due. He's the best in the league and he deserved the win. Hampton didn't make one or two mistakes like we did,Â" he said.
Attacking Jimenez early was the key, according to Bill Spiers, who had three hits.
Â"Obviously, we knew about the no-hitter. He had to be feeling good about himself. It was big to get the four runs in the first before he could get going good,Â" Spiers said.
Houston interim manager Matt Galante agreed.
Â"We saw him pitch against Arizona and he pitched well against us earlier this season so we knew he could pitch. We were fortunate to get to him early and keep it going,Â" Galante said.
Hampton (10-3) won for the fifth time in six starts. He pitched eight innings and gave up eight hits.
Cardinals rookie Joe McEwing singled in the eighth inning, extending his hitting streak to 21 games.
Spiers doubled and singled twice and Jeff Bagwell hit his 25th home run for Houston.
After Biggio and Bell singled, a walk to Bagwell loaded the bases. Biggio scored on a wild pitch, Carl Everett had a sacrifice fly, and Spiers and Richard Hidalgo hit RBI doubles.
St. Louis closed to 4-2 in the second. Fernando Tatis led off with a double, Edgar Renteria doubled and Placido Polanco hit an RBI single.
Everett and Spiers singled and Paul Bako had a sacrifice fly in the third. Houston chased Jimene in the fifth, scoring four more runs to move ahead 9-2.
A single by Spiers and a walk to Hidalgo brought on reliever Lance Painter. A single by Bako loaded the bases and Ricky Gutierrez hit a two-run singled. Hampton added a sacrifice fly and Biggio hit an RBI single.
Gutierrez hit his first home run in the seventh and Bagwell connected in the eighth.
Notes: Hampton reached double figures in wins for the fourth straight season. ... Everett extended his career-high hitting streak to nine games. ... McEwing's 21-game hitting streak is one game shy of the St. Louis rookie record set by Johnny Mize in 1936.
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