Astros 4, Cardinals 2

Saturday, April 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ There was more incentive for Kent Bottenfield than beating his old team.

Bottenfield, who pitched seven strong innings in the Houston Astros' 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night, also was fighting to keep his spot in the rotation.

Shane Reynolds made his final rehab start Friday, and there's a spot waiting for him. Either Bottenfield or Octavio Dotel could be bumped to the bullpen.

``We all felt that Shane was going to miss five or six starts,'' Bottenfield said. ``It's good for the team that he's not going to, but it might not be so good for me.''

Bottenfield was too good for the Cardinals on Friday, allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

``Bottenfield was up to the challenge,'' manager Larry Dierker said. ``I can't say enough about the work he did because everybody knows he's not the hardest thrower in the world.''

Bottenfield, who won 18 games for the Cardinals in 1999, kept his former team off balance.

``For two years I watched these guys and I paid attention,'' Bottenfield said. ``I have a good idea and it's just a matter of hitting spots. I'm not going to blow anybody away.''

Craig Biggio broke a tie with a two-run homer off Darryl Kile in the seventh inning and added an RBI single for the Astros. Dierker said Biggio, who was 3-for-4 to raise his average to .395, is completely recovered from knee surgery last August.

``He's running better than he did last year and he's swinging the bat better,'' Dierker said. ``He's playing like he did two years ago and before that.''

Biggio is 6-for-14 with two homers and six RBIs against Kile, who played for the Astros from 1991-97. Biggio hit an 0-1 hanging curve off the Stadium Club facade in the upper deck in left, a drive estimated at 424 feet.

``Darryl's got great stuff, and I've been lucky,'' Biggio said.

Kile, coming off his first 20-win season, is 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA after three starts. He allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings, falling to 1-3 against his old team.

``When I made a mistake, they hit it,'' Kile said. ``The bottom line is wins and losses, and we got beat because I hung a pitch.''

Mike Jackson worked the eighth and Billy Wagner finished for his third save. The Cardinals have dropped two straight after winning five in a row.

The Astros took the lead in the first when Julio Lugo tripled and scored on Biggio's single. Orlando Merced hit his first home run since Aug. 29, 1999, for a 2-0 lead in the second.

Jim Edmonds, back in the lineup after missing two starts due to tightness in his right groin, hit his third homer in the third. The Cardinals tied it in the fourth on Ray Lankford's leadoff double off the right-field wall, a single by Albert Pujols and a double play.

Mark McGwire was 0-for-3 and left after six innings. Craig Paquette, his replacement, batted with runners on first and second in the eighth and flied out to center.

Notes: Pujols, a rookie, was 3-for-4. He has a seven-game hitting streak (13-for-27), and his 11 RBIs lead the Cardinals. ... Larry Sutton, who flied out to the center field wall as a pinch hitter for St. Louis, is 0-for-14 to start the season. ... Bottenfield evened his career record at 45-45. ... St. Louis reliever Steve Kline appeared in six straight games before Friday.