Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Watson Muzzles Astros, Ends Cards' Skid

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Watson Muzzles Astros, Ends Cards' Skid

Article excerpt

The only thing that previously had gotten in the way of a season-high losing streak for the Cardinals was Hurricane Erin, which forced cancellation of a game in Miami.

But on Thursday night came a warm breeze named Watson and a breath of fresh air from an often repugnant Cardinals defense.

In a season of disappointment and teeth-gnashing, lefthander Allen Watson may yet again have people talking about his potential.

Watson (4-4) helped stop the Cardinals' losing streak at six games with a second consecutive strong performance. It came in a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium.

Counting his last start, against Florida, Watson has given up no earned runs in his last 13 innings. Watson never had beaten Houston in five games and had an 8.39 earned-run average against the Astros. But he spaced six hits over seven innings as he outpitched Greg Swindell (7-5).

The save, an arduous and determined one, went to Tom Henke. Henke's 23rd conversion in 24 opportunities left him two shy of 300 in his career.

And the much-maligned Cardinals defense aided and abetted considerably in the victory.

Right fielder Brian Jordan and catcher Scott Hemond combined for the most significant play - a double play that cut short a Houston rally in the eighth inning.

Henke relieved Rich DeLucia after one-out singles by Craig Biggio and Derek Bell. The two speedy Houston runners took advantage of Henke's slow delivery and were on the move when Tony Eusebio, a .472 hitter against the Cardinals in his career, singled in Biggio. Bell went to third and stayed there as pinch-hitter Dave Magadan walked.

With the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Derrick May lined to right, where Jordan made a good catch. Bell broke a couple of steps off third before going back to re-tag. But those steps were costly. Jordan uncorked an on-the-fly throw that Hemond took to the right and in front of the plate. The catcher then dived back to tag Bell, who had tried to slide headfirst away from Hemond.

"I knew I had to react quickly and get rid of it," Jordan said.

Houston manager Terry Collins said, "It was a great play by Jordan but Bell is fast enough that he should have beaten that throw. He got too far down the line and then he had to go back and tag up. He didn't have any momentum going to the plate."

Third baseman Scott Cooper, whose defense has been erratic this season, also contributed two key defensive plays.

In the ninth, Hemond made a wild throw to second trying to cut down Orlando Miller trying to steal. Miller went to third on the play with no one out.

"I've got to know better than to throw that ball in the first place," Hemond said.

Henke struck out Jerry Goff. Brian Hunter then hit a smash to the right of Cooper, who went to his knees to make the stop. Besides keeping Miller at third, Cooper threw out Hunter at first. …

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