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Astros short hops

Astros short hops

HOUSTON -- Behind the pitching of its ace, Roger Clemens, and relievers Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge, Houston inched ahead of St. Louis in the National League Championship Series with a 4-3 win Saturday in Game 3.

Timely hitting by Mike Lamb keyed the offense. Lamb finished 2-for-4 with a two-run home run off of Cardinals starting pitcher Matt Morris in the third inning.

Lidge's 30-plus-inning scoreless streak against the Cardinals was snapped when John Mabry ripped an RBI double off him in the ninth, but Lidge earned his second save of the series.

Vitals check
A look at key statistics through Game 3 of the NLCS.

Team stats

Digits Trend The Deal
ERA 3.11 Starters going deep, Lidge and relief corps finishing things off
BA .290 Timely hitting is the key to the team's rising batting average
BA w/ RISP .090 Astros moving runners along at key points, even though they might not always get a hit with runners in scoring position
Runs 11 Four runs in Game 3 is a lot considering the pitching matchups thus far
Errors 1 The Cards have taken advantage of opponent's miscues all season, so the Astros' error-free fielding continues to be a plus

Who's hot?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Mike Lamb .375 (2-for-4, two RBIs, two runs in Game 3) Manager Phil Garner gave Chris Burke the start, but not at the expense of Lamb, who started in left field and went 2-for-4, with a key two-run homer

Who's not?

Player Digits Trend The Deal
Morgan Ensberg 1-for-10 in the series Houston ahead despite lackluster showing by All-Star slugger

Frozen moment
Jason Lane's RBI single in the sixth put the Astros ahead, 3-2, half an inning after the Cardinals had tied the game at 2.

Slick move
The move by Garner to keep Lamb's bat and start Burke proved to be the most beneficial move of the game. Lamb not only had two hits but two RBIs and two runs.

Looking good
The Astros pitching staff has held the mighty Cardinals offense to just four runs in the last 18 innings.

Last word
"I think my power sneaks up on me as well as everybody else. I've always been a hitter that uses the whole field and hits for batting average. With the dimensions here at Minute Maid, you know, my ability to go the opposite way has been a benefit." -- Lamb

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

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