The St. Louis Cardinals hit Danny Darwin harder at first base than from the mound yesterday.

Darwin (8-1) gave up four hits in six innings before getting ejected after a fight with Pedro Guerrero that cleared both benches as the Houston Astros beat St. Louis, 4-2, for their third victory in four games. All of the victories have come on this trip for the Astros, who have the worst road record in the major leagues at 17-41.

Darwin, Guerrero and Astros Manager Art Howe were ejected by first base umpire Bob Davidson after Guerrero and Darwin tangled in the top of the seventh. Darwin and Guerrero had words after Darwin threw inside to Guerrero in the sixth and Guerrero punched Darwin in the face at first base after Darwin reached on an infield hit in the seventh.

Both benches cleared but there were no other incidents, although Darwin and Guerrero exchanged angry words outside the teams' locker rooms. After the game, several police officers were called to the clubhouse area as a precautionary measure.

"He's a cheap-shot artist," said Darwin, who was cut on the left side of his face. "When the umpire got there he showed how brave he was and he swung around and hit me in side of the face.

"I still can't understand why I got kicked out, that's still the question in my mind."

One reason may be that Darwin, aiming for Guerrero, landed a punch to Davidson's head instead. Howe then was ejected for arguing too strenuously about Darwin's ejection.

"I said something that I probably shouldn't have said," Howe said.

Guerrero didn't want to talk about the incident.

Darwin won his sixth straight decision as a starter, striking out three and walking none. Guerrero's replacement, Dave Collins, had an RBI single off Juan Agosto in the eighth before Dave Smith got the last four outs for his 20th save.d out.