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10/16/05 9:42 PM ET

Astros short hops

Backe, Lidge boost Astros to 3-1 lead

HOUSTON -- Great pitching met great pitching, but the Astros snuck away with a 2-1 win over the Cardinals in Game 4.

Two of the least heralded starters in the NLCS, St. Louis' Jeff Suppan and Houston's Brandon Backe, pitched like All-Stars in Game 4.

Morgan Ensberg drove in his first run of the series in the seventh inning, scoring Willy Taveras on a sacrifice fly for what stood as the winning run.

With a 2-1 lead in hand, closer Brad Lidge came on in the ninth and induced John Mabry to ground into a double play to get out of a jam and earn his third save of the series.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 4 of the NLCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 2.50 The Astros got a big game from the No. 4 pitcher in their playoff rotation, Brandon Backe (5 2/3 innings, two hits, one run)
BA .271 Despite the win, the Astros struggled to get hits
BA w/ RISP .052 Houston managed a Game 4 win despite stranding 16 runners in scoring position
Runs 13 The Astros squeezed in just two runs and haven't scored more than four in a game in the series
Errors 1 Great defensive plays late in the game sealed the victory

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Jason Lane 2-for-3, HR, walk in Game 4 (.214 in series) Lane gave the Astros a boost with his solo home run in the fourth inning

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Mike Lamb 0-for-4 in Game 4 (.250 in series) Saturday's hero stranded four runners on base and struck out twice

Frozen moment
Lidge getting John Mabry to ground into the double play saved him a blown save, and the Astros a win.

Behind the numbers
Houston pitchers only allowed two Cardinals to reach third base and only four Cards reached second base.

Slick move
In the seventh, manager Phil Garner sent Taveras in for Orlando Palmerio as a pinch-runner at third base. Taveras not only scored the winning run, but also saved what could have been the tying run in the eighth. With a runner on, Cardinals pinch-hitter John Rodriguez lined a pitch about 420 feet to deep center, but the speedy Taveras caught up with the ball on the hill to end the inning. Chris Burke started in center, but was moved to left when Taveras took the field.

Looking good
Lidge has three saves in three NLCS games. He's given up one run (2.25 ERA) in four innings.

Last word
"Well, at the time, you know, I'm so wound up and involved in what I'm doing out there on the mound, I have to be honest, when I saw [Garner] coming out and pointing to the bullpen, I was a little upset. But that's what competitors do. If I wasn't upset, I think there would be something wrong with me. I just felt like I was doing pretty good today and was battling and apparently it was just the right time for me to come out." -- Backe, on whether he was upset about being taken out after pitching 5 2/3 near spotless innings

Stephen A. Norris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.