04/12/2004 1:24 AM ET
Astros snap Cards' win streak
Hidalgo, Biggio have big nights at Busch
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- A couple of Cardinals who could scarcely do anything wrong in the season's first week saw their fortunes turn on Monday night. Mike Lincoln, previously unscored upon this year, gave up five runs in relief while Marlon Anderson missed a makeable catch on a three-run double as the Cardinals fell to the Astros, 10-5.
|Julian Tavarez reacts after allowing a bases-loaded double to Craig Biggio in the eighth inning. (Tom Gannam/AP)
In a more agreeable reversal of fortune for the home team, Woody Williams bounced back from a dicey first inning and a tedious first start to pitch six innings. Williams had a chance at his first win of the season, but was deprived of the 'W' when St. Louis' bullpen and defense let a 5-4 lead turn into an ugly loss. The Cards saw a three-game winning streak come to an end as they fell to 4-4.
"I felt good in the middle innings and toward the end, but it's a shame I had to get beat up on so bad in the first inning," said Williams, who gave up four runs -- all of them in the first -- on six hits, striking out five and walking two. "I couldn't make that pitch to get out of the inning. All in all it's a positive for me, but I'm just disappointed we had to lose."
The Cards' No. 2 starter battled shoulder tendinitis early in Spring Training and threw only 9 1/3 spring innings before an 82-pitch, three-inning debut last week. He recovered from an unappetizing first to make it through the sixth. Williams needed 26 pitches to get through the first, but only 73 more over the next five frames.
The good feelings from his outing were quickly washed away, though. For the second consecutive game, the Cards bullpen was unable to hold a lead. Unlike on Sunday in Arizona, though, the offense wasn't able to bail them out.
Williams was removed in favor of Lincoln to start the seventh with the Cards up, 5-4. After striking out the leadoff man, Lincoln yielded a double to right-center by Craig Biggio. As Biggio took a lead off second, Lincoln made a pickoff attempt that sailed well wide of second baseman Tony Womack and into center field. That sent Biggio to third, and the leadoff man came home on Adam Everett's sacrifice fly.
"I just launched it out to center," said Lincoln (2-1), who took the loss. "It wasn't really a decision, it kind of just happened. He ran over there and I spun and threw it out to center."
Still, the game was tied going into the eighth. But Lincoln got himself in trouble quickly again in that inning, hitting leadoff batter Jeff Kent with a pitch. Lance Berkman's single past Albert Pujols and into right field sent Kent to third, and he scored to put Houston ahead on a sacrifice fly by Richard Hidalgo.
The Cards had chances to get out of the inning with only a one-run deficit after that, but the team's defense fell short -- as it has tended to do at times this year. Morgan Ensberg hit a comebacker to Lincoln that should have gone for at least one out. But Lincoln's throw to second was not in time, and Tony Womack elected not to make a throw to first.
"I just caught it, I didn't hear anything, I spun and threw to second," Lincoln said. "That was just kind of reaction. By the time I was throwing it, I realized how close it was. It was still a close play. It kind of looked like it could have gone either way. It was just one of those deals. If I could do that one over, I'm sure I would take the out at first."
Had the Cards gotten even one out on the play, Jose Vizcaino's fly out would have ended the inning. Instead, Biggio got one more shot, and he took advantage.
The veteran leadoff man lifted a fly ball to deep left that Anderson appeared to have a play on, but the ball bounced off Anderson's glove for a three-run double. Anderson, a second baseman by trade, had entered the game for Ray Lankford, who left the game after he injured his right hamstring.
"It was definitely not a routine play, but I felt good going back on it," Anderson said. "It just hit the top of the glove. It wasn't what I would call a routine play."
The game looked like a slugfest early, as Williams gave up two doubles and a homer for four runs in the first, then St. Louis chased Houston starter Jared Fernandez before the first was over. Fernandez walked in a batter, while singles by Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders, and a sac fly from Edgar Renteria did the rest of the damage. The Cards went ahead on a Jim Edmonds RBI single in the second, but didn't score again.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.