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06/10/11 1:15 AM ET

La Russa on threshold of historic milestone

HOUSTON -- Thursday's game against the Astros is manager Tony La Russa's 4,999th regular-season game, in his 33rd season as a skipper.

When La Russa coaches the Cardinals on Friday in Milwaukee, he will join Connie Mack as the only manager or coach in American professional sports history to reach 5,000 games.

"It's gotten my attention," La Russa said. "That's a lot of games. The most important thing to me is that it re-emphasizes the career wins with three outstanding organizations."

La Russa managed the White Sox for eight years and the Athletics for 10 before beginning his tenure with the Cardinals. He has produced 11 90-win seasons, and has won five pennants and two World Series as a manager.

"It's all tied together and involved with the organizations I'm with," he said. "You see everything that's done to put the Major League club in a competitive situation and contending situation, and you get fired up and see how special it all is."

La Russa said that coaching successful franchises and having a chance to win every year keeps him hungry.

"The October excitement is the No. 1 motivator," he said.

La Russa said that the best piece of advice he received as a manager was from former skipper Paul Richards, who told La Russa, "Trust your gut, and don't try to cover your butt."

Berkman feels right at home in former home

HOUSTON -- Lance Berkman heard a sound on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park he was unfamiliar with during his 12 years with the Astros.

The crowd booed as the left fielder sent a Bud Norris fastball over the right-field wall, breaking Norris' no-game bid in the seventh inning.

"I think they were booing Albert [Pujols], and they just continued on," Berkman joked. "Those weren't for me."

The former Astro would go on to hit another solo shot to right field in the series finale on Thursday, giving him a home run in each game of the series.

Berkman has five home runs and 12 RBIs in his six games at the venue, notching at least one hit in each of those games. He holds the record for home runs at Minute Maid Park, with 156, and has more homers this season (15) than he did all of last year.

"If I quit last year, I'd have been perfectly fine with my career," Berkman said. "It's icing on the cake to do well. If I'm healthy and I'm young enough, I'm going to hit."

Berkman has homered in four of his last five games. He had only six home runs at this point last season.

"If he's healthy, then you've got Lance Berkman," said manager Tony La Russa. "When he's healthy, he's a great player."

Theriot takes end of streak in stride

HOUSTON -- Shortstop Ryan Theriot saw his career-best 20-game hit streak snapped on Wednesday night, when he walked twice in an 0-for-2 performance.

"Honestly, the last week or so, I haven't felt that great at the plate. I've just been managing to get a hit here or there," Theriot said. "I'm going to work on a few things and get the bat going again."

The streak led the league and was the longest Cardinals' hitting streak since Albert Pujols hit safely in 30 straight games in 2003.

Houston right fielder Hunter Pence now has baseball's longest current hitting streak, at 20.

Theriot is one of just three Cardinals shortstops to post a 20-game hit streak in team history.

He said the streak may have crossed his mind, but it wasn't a focus as he stepped up to the plate.

"Once I'd get to 55 [games], I'd probably be thinking about it a little bit," he said, that 55 being one short of Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hitting streak from 1941.

Worth noting

• Lance Lynn made his second Major League start on Thursday. Before he was called up, he went 5-0 with a 0.56 ERA in five starts against Astros affiliates.

• Lefty Mark Hamilton started at first base in the finale with the Astros, even though Houston started left-hander J.A. Happ. Hamilton is 1-for-2 with one strikeout against southpaws this season.

Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.