The Astros jumped out to an early lead and held on for a 5-4 victory over St. Louis on Friday. Early offense and solid pitching by the ‘Stros proved once again to be a winning combination. Jose Altuve hammered a 3-run homer in the second inning to give the Astros a 5-2 lead. The Cardinals narrowed the gap to 5-4 in the third and it looked like it was going to be a slugfest, but that wasn’t the case. Lucas Harrell and Kyle Lohse settled in and got some tremendous bullpen help to turn this game into a nail-biter.
Wesley Wright, Wilton Lopez, Fernando Martinez, and Brett Myers were all fantastic in preserving the victory for Harrell. We’ve been critical of Brad Mills’ bullpen usage before, but tonight he pushed all the right buttons. His decision to have Jed Lowrie attempt a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning is another story. Lowrie and Altuve have carried the load on offense during the winning streak and taking the bat out of Jed’s hands was a poor decision no matter how you slice it. But all’s well that ends well.
Carlos Lee joined Altuve and Lowrie with two hits in the game. Jordan Schafer extended his on-base streak to 25, which ties the franchise record to start a season. Schafer also stole two bases and scored a pair of runs. Altuve came up with a big play on defense in the ninth inning to help Brett Myers secure his seventh save of the year. After Rafael Furcal led off the inning with a single, John Jay hit a popup right at Altuve. Jay didn’t hustle out of the box and Altuve let the ball drop and quickly flipped it to Lowrie to start a double-play. Myers then fanned Matt Holliday to end the game.
It was an all-around team effort that improved the Astros record to 12-14 for the season. Bud Norris goes against Jaime Garcia Saturday at 6:05 CDT as the Astros try to extend their winning streak. Norris has had lots of success against the Cardinals in the past. Bud has a 6-2 career mark against the Redbirds.