Astros bats were fine but couldn't come back
The St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in baseball. So it’s no surprise the Cardinals defeated the Astros on Tuesday. It is surprising that they did so convincingly against a Houston team that is showing continued improvement. The Cardinals, who lead the National League in runs scored, beat the Astros 13-5 at Minute Maid Park.
Not much went right for the Astros, who lost right fielder Justin Maxwell in the fourth inning with a mild concussion. A highlight for the Astros was the hitting of DH Brett Wallace. Wallace, who was recalled by the Astros earlier in the day, delivered a two-run triple in the four-run sixth inning that broke an 0-for-24 skid in the majors.
Tuesday was the first of a nine-game homestand. The Astros were 5-2 on their previous homestand.
The Cardinals took control of the game with a seven-run fourth inning off Houston starter Lucas Harrel (5-8).
Harrell made his club-leading 17th start of the season a short outing. The right-hander failed to get out of the fourth inning, an inning he allowed all of his seven earned runs. He walked three batters in the inning and also gave up a three-run triple to Matt Carpenter. In 3 1/3 innings Harrell gave up seven hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
While Harrell struggled, Jake Westbrook (4-2) was the opposite. The right-hander did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, his final inning, when the Astros tagged him for all four of his runs and all four of his hits allowed.
Hector Ambriz, the last of five Houston pitchers, pitched a scoreless ninth inning. In just 2 2/3 innings, Dallas Keuchel had six strikeouts. While trying to control the damage he allowed three hits and two runs.
At the plate
The Cardinals had the game’s first 10 hits. But Houston batters came alive in a four-run sixth inning to cut the deficit to 9-4.
Matt Dominguez ended Westbrook’s no-hit bid by leading off the last of the sixth with his 11th home run, a blast to left field that hit the Community Leader sign. Wallace came up big with a two-run triple.
Carlos Beltran, David Freese and Allen Craig each hit two-run homers for the Cardinals. Beltran, the former Astro, was greeted by a chorus of boos after hitting his 18th homer. Matt Carpenter had a three-run triple.
In the field
Shortstop Ronny Cedeno leaped high to snare a liner off the bat of Carpenter, the first batter of the game.
St. Louis left fielder Craig made a nice running catch to his left on a liner from Carlos Pena to lead off the Houston fifth inning. At the time the Astros were seeking their first hit.
Maxwell left the game in the fourth inning with a mild concussion. The right fielder tried to make a catch on a ball that resulted in Carpenter’s three-run triple that gave the Cardinals a 6-0 lead. Maxwell was replaced in right field by J.D. Martinez.
The brief two-game set with the Cardinals concludes on Wednesday with LHP Erik Bedard (2-3, 4.43 ERA) opposing RHP Lance Lynn (10-1, 3.42 ERA).
Following an off day on Thursday, the Astros are at home for three games with the Angels then four games at home with the Rays.
The pitching matchups for the Angels series: Friday, RHP Bud Norris (5-7, 3.60 ERA) vs. RHP Jerome Williams (5-3, 3.36 ERA). Saturday, RHP Jordan Lyles (4-2, 3.68 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (1-10, 5.26 ERA). Sunday, RHP Lucas Harrell vs. LHP C.J. Wilson.