Berkman's Strong Night Carries Cards Over 'Stros

SB Nation Houston's coverage of the Astros-Cardinals series from April 26th-28th.

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8 Total Updates since April 26, 2011
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Astros Activate Clint Barmes From DL, Designate Joe Inglett For Assignment

The Houston Astros will finally be getting their shortstop back tonight as they will be activating shortstop Clint Barmes from the DL. Barmes was acquired in the offseason for lefthander Felipe Paulino, but broke a bone in his hand during spring training and missed most of the first month of the season. Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Barmes will get the starting shortstop gig and will start tonight.

To make froom for Barmes, the club has designated infielder Joe Inglett for assignment. Inglett was acquired from the Rays near the end of spring training for a player to be named later or cash. Inglett had only accumulated 24 plate appearances thus far, hitting .208/.208/.250 with no homers in that time frame.

With the move, the Astros will likely have Angel Sanchez as a rover for a bit, potentially splitting time or usurping Bill Hall’s job at second base if Hall should continue to struggle at the plate. After a hot start, Sanchez cooled down considerably and is now hitting just .300/.333/380.

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Berkman Explodes, Abad Implodes In Astros Loss

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Former Astro Lance Berkman went 4-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI as St. Louis used a nine-run sixth inning to beat Houston, 11-7, in the rubber match of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

Matt Holliday had two hits and drove in three for the Cardinals, who won the series and have taken six of eight overall. David Freese hit safely three times and knocked in a run while scoring twice

Kyle McClellan (4-0) picked up the win despite allowing eight hits and five runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Hunter Pence went 3-for-4 with two RBI and Chris Johnson added a two-run shot for the Astros, who have dropped five of their last seven. Carlos Lee added two hits and drove in a pair in defeat.

Fernando Abad (1-2) took the loss, charged with three hits and four runs while retiring just two batters.

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Astros Turn To Figueroa For Series Win

(Sports Network) – Kyle McClellan is taking advantage of his time in the St. Louis Cardinals rotation and puts his unblemished record to the test in the finale of a three-game series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

McClellan is 3-0 with a 2.16 earned run average in four games (3 starts) this season and has won three straight trips to the hill. He has lasted at least six innings in each of his appearances and previously toed the rubber in Friday’s 4-2 win over Cincinnati at Busch Stadium, where he limited the Reds to a pair of runs and seven hits in six frames.

The right-hander is 2-0 in a pair of road outings and will make his first career start against Houston. McClellan is 0-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 17 lifetime relief appearances in this series.

St. Louis’ bullpen almost blew a win for Kyle Lohse in Wednesday’s 6-5 victory over the Astros, as Ryan Franklin and Eduardo Sanchez both allowed two runs in relief of Lohse, who tossed seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball. Sanchez was able to record his first save even though he was reached for a pair of runs and three hits in the ninth.

“Our defense made some great plays,” Lohse said postgame. “A whole lot of [credit] to them.”

Matt Holliday finished with three hits, including a home run, and two RBI for the Cardinals, who rebounded from a loss to Houston in the series opener and won for the 11th time in 16 tries. Tyler Greene also went deep, while Nick Punto and Lance Berkman had two hits and an RBI apiece.

The Cardinals sit just a half-game ahead of Cincinnati for the NL Central lead and will visit Atlanta for three games over the weekend.

Houston has dropped four of six games and saw young left-hander J.A. Happ fall to 1-4 on the season after he surrendered a pair of runs on five hits and two walks with five K’s over five innings. Enerio Del Rosario was even worse in relief, allowing three runs and four hits in 1 2/3 frames.

The Astros scored all of their runs in the final two innings, as RBI singles from Hunter Pence and Brett Wallace highlighted a three-run eighth inning. Jason Bourgeois delivered a run-scoring triple and Michael Bourn added a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth before Pence went down swinging to end the game.

Wallace had three hits and both Bourgeois and Joe Inglett contributed two hits and two runs scored in a losing effort. Wallace extended his hitting streak to seven games and has now hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games.

“I thought the effort was outstanding all the way around,” Astros manager Brad Mills said.

Houston is scheduled to host Milwaukee for three games over the weekend.

Nelson Figueroa is still searching for his first win of the season and sports an 0-3 mark with an 8.55 ERA in four starts. Figueroa gets the nod for the ’Stros tonight and matched a season low with four innings the last time out in a 14-7 loss at Milwaukee. He allowed six runs and six hits with five walks.

Figueroa, who was coming off a no-decision versus San Diego, has allowed five or more runs in three of his four trips to the bump this season. The righty owns a decent mark in his career against St. Louis, going 3-1 with a modest 4.07 ERA in 13 games, five of which are starts.

The Astros won 10 of the 15 matchups with St. Louis a year ago.

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Happ Records Loss, But Bullpen Blows Game

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Matt Holliday had three hits -- including a home run -- and two RBI to lead the Cardinals over the Astros, 6-5, and even their three-game series.

Kyle Lohse (4-1) pitched seven scoreless innings for the win. He scattered four hits and one walk while striking out two to give St. Louis its fifth win in the last seven games.

"Our defense made some great plays," Lohse said. "A whole lot of [credit] to them."

J.A. Happ (1-4) took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings. He also struck out five for the Astros, who suffered their fourth loss in the past six games.

"Tonight was no exception. I thought the effort was outstanding all the way around," Astros manager Brad Mills said.

Holliday's two-out solo shot in the fourth gave the Cardinals the lead, and it was a 2-0 game after Tyler Greene added a line-drive homer in the fifth.

The Cardinals added four more runs in the seventh, all of them with two outs.

Jon Jay singled with one out and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Lohse. The next five batters reached base, and runs scored on singles by Nick Punto, Albert Pujols, Holliday, and Lance Berkman to give the Cardinals a six- run advantage.

They needed all six of those runs when Houston fought back in the last two innings against the Cardinals' bullpen.

The Astros loaded the bases in the eighth with no outs after Ryan Franklin allowed a Joe Inglett double and a Jason Bourgeois single, and Trever Miller walked Michael Bourn.

Fernando Salas came in to pitch and gave up a fielder's choice grounder to Angel Sanchez that scored Inglett, and a Hunter Pence single to center that brought home Bourgeois. Salas struck out Carlos Lee for the second out, but allowed an RBI single to Brett Wallace that plated Sanchez before getting pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic to pop out to end the inning.

Eduardo Sanchez entered in the ninth and struck out the first batter he faced. But Inglett singled and scored when Bourgeois followed with a triple to the left-center alley. Bourn's sac fly then made it a one-run game, and Angel Sanchez doubled to put the tying run in scoring position.

However, Eduardo Sanchez got Pence to swing and miss on a 2-2 slider to end the game and record his first major league save.

Game Notes

Houston turned five double plays...Wallace extended his hitting streak to seven games and has now hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games...Only 58 of Happ's 101 pitches went for strikes.

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Astros Look For Second Series Win Against Lohse, Cards

(Sports Network) – Early-season standout Kyle Lohse aims for a fourth consecutive victory tonight when his St. Louis Cardinals look to bounce back in game two of a three-game set with the host Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

The Cardinals, who’ve won four straight series, were beaten late in Tuesday’s opener when Bill Hall knocked in Michael Bourn to cap Houston’s two-run ninth- inning rally in a 6-5 victory.

Lance Berkman, in his first game at Minute Maid Park as a visitor, doubled in Matt Holliday in the top of the ninth to give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead that Mitchell Boggs (0-1) gave away in the bottom half.

Chris Johnson had two hits and two RBI while Hunter Pence went 3-for-5 with a solo homer for the Astros, who have won two of three.

Daniel Descalso doubled twice, tripled and knocked in three runs to pace the Cardinals, who were coming off a weekend series win over Cincinnati.

The Astros spoiled Berkman’s storybook return to Houston, where he spent the first 11 1/2 seasons of his career before getting dealt to the Yankees at last year’s trade deadline.

Lohse, whose win totals have plummeted from 15 to 6 to 4 in his three seasons with St. Louis, got his third win of 2011 on April 21 when he threw nine innings of scoreless two-hit ball with six strikeouts in a 5-0 blanking of Washington.

The gem lowered the 32-year-old’s earned run average from 2.82 to 2.01 and dropped the opposition batting average against him to a minuscule .174 — more than 100 points lower than his .283 career clip.

In 31 1/3 innings across four starts this season, Lohse has allowed just seven runs on 19 hits with 22 strikeouts and only four walks.

Last season, in 18 starts, his ERA was 6.55 and opponents hit .336 against him.

Lohse is 6-7 in 14 career games against Houston.

For the Astros, lefty J.A. Happ makes another effort to get things going in his first full season in Houston.

The 28-year-old, acquired in the Roy Oswalt trade from Philadelphia, was 1-1 after two starts in 2011 but has dropped two subsequent outings to drop his career big-league mark to 20-12.

He was roughed up for six hits and six runs in his last start on April 21 in New York, a 9-1 loss to the Mets that saw his ERA swell to 6.94.

Happ pitched to a 3.75 ERA in 72 innings over 13 starts with the Astros last season.

He is 1-2 in four career starts against the Cardinals.

The Astros won 10 of the 15 matchups with St. Louis a year ago.

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Bill Hall's Game Winning Hit Bails Out Fulchino, Lyon

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Bill Hall knocked in Michael Bourn to cap Houston’s two-run ninth-inning rally, as the Astros earned a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series between the NL Central foes.

Lance Berkman, in his first game at Minute Maid Park as a visitor, doubled in Matt Holliday in the top of the ninth to give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead that Mitchell Boggs (0-1) gave away in the bottom half.

Chris Johnson had two hits and two RBI while Hunter Pence went 3-for-5 with a solo homer for the Astros, who have won two of three.

Daniel Descalso doubled twice, tripled and knocked in three runs to pace the Cardinals, who were coming off a weekend series win over Cincinnati.

The Astros spoiled Berkman’s storybook return to Houston, where he spent the first 11 1/2 seasons of his career before getting dealt to the Yankees at last year’s trade deadline.

Brian Bogusevic, recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma earlier in the day to fill in for the injured Jason Michaels, singled to lead off the home ninth and moved to second on a passed ball. Bourn put down a bunt that Boggs bobbled, and the speedster beat out the throw to put runners on the corners.

Yadier Molina failed to handle Boggs’ 50-foot toss to the plate shortly thereafter. The wild pitch went up the first-base line, and Bogusevic scored the tying run without a play at the plate.

Angel Sanchez and Pence each singled to load the bases, and Hall ended the game by grounding one past a drawn-in infield on the left side.

Brandon Lyon (2-1) was credited with the win despite giving up Berkman’s go- ahead double in the ninth.

The Cardinals got their first three runs in the fourth after Sanchez booted David Freese’s routine grounder to keep the inning alive. Molina followed with a single, and Nick Punto’s double knocked in Freese before Descalso tripled off the right-field wall for a 3-0 game.

Pence got one back leading off the bottom half with a mammoth home run off the railroad tracks high above the wall in left field, and the Astros took their first lead in the sixth.

Houston loaded the bases without hitting the ball out of the infield, as Sanchez beat out an infield single, Carlos Lee reached on Freese’s error and Hall worked a one-out walk.

Brett Wallace, who went 3-for-4 at the plate, ended Jaime Garcia’s outing with an RBI single, and Johnson greeted Miguel Batista with a humpback liner to left that scored Lee and Hall.

The Astros squandered a base-loaded chance in the eighth when Hall bounced into a inning-ending double play, and St. Louis tied it in its next turn.

Molina opened the eighth with a base hit, and after moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, came around to score when Descalso lofted a fly ball down the left-field line that just stayed fair.

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Jason Michaels Hits The DL With Shoulder Injury, Bogusevic Called Up From Oklahoma City

Per Alyson Footer on Twitter, Astros outfielder Jason Michaels will be going to the DL with a sublaxation of his left shoulder. In his place, the team has recalled outfielder Brian Bogusevic from AAA Oklahoma City.

Sublaxation is fancy medical jargon, but Zachary Levine informs us on Twitter that it "seems to be a slight separation of the B&S joint."  That doesn't get us any closer to a timetable on when Michaels will be back. Still, it shouldn't be a huge loss for the team until interleague play starts. Jason Bourgeois has seen most of the at-bats in left field in the "designated Carlos Lee defensive replacement" role, and Michaels was hitting just .111 in 20 at-bats so far this season.

Bogusevic, the Astros first round draft pick in 2005, will be following the Rick Ankiel career path as he attempts to make the major leagues as a hitter after flaming out as a pitcher. He was hitting .241/.392/.362 for the RedHawks prior to his call up. He'll likely be relegated to a bench role and not given many at-bats, as the Astros outfield is pretty well settled for the moment. 

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Norris Looks To Continue Dominance Over RedBirds

(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Cardinals head to Houston Tuesday for the start of a three-game set versus the Astros searching for a fifth consecutive winning series.

St. Louis can count just four losses among its last 14 games after a rough start to the year and is coming off Sunday's 3-0 win over division-rival Cincinnati. Yadier Molina belted a three-run homer to back a strong start by Jake Westbrook, leading the Cardinals to victory in the rubber match of the weekend set.

Westbrook (2-2) yielded just three hits and three walks in six innings, striking out four to help St. Louis win for the fourth time in five games overall. The bullpen made the effort stand up as Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Mitchell Boggs set down nine of the final 10 batters to preserve the Cardinals' third shutout of the season. Boggs worked around a Joey Votto double in the ninth to record his third save.

Molina's blast off Reds' starter Edinson Volquez in the sixth inning was one of seven St. Louis hits. Molina and Lance Berkman had two apiece.

"Every time you hit a home run, what do you want?" Molina asked rhetorically. "You want to be mad? Or sad? No. You've got to enjoy it, man. Especially me. I don't hit a bunch of home runs. Every time I get an opportunity to enjoy it, that's the way you have to play this game. Fun."

Looking to keep the Cards' positive momentum going this evening will be 24- year-old southpaw Jaime Garcia. Garcia has won three of his four starts to this point in 2011, last defeating the Nationals on Wednesday with five innings of four-hit ball. He allowed three runs, but just one was earned. It was the second consecutive five-frame outing for Garcia, whose only trouble so far has been high pitch counts in the last two starts -- reaching 101 and 91 respectively.

Garcia has faced the Astros just once in his career, a forgettable 18-4 shellacking on August 3 last season. The young lefty lasted five innings in that one, charged with 10 hits and eight runs -- four of those earned.

As for Houston, it dropped the finale of a three-game series with the Brewers Sunday, 4-1, for its third loss in four games. The Astros' bats were bested by the likes of starter Randy Wolf, who twirled eight effective innings in limiting the visitors to just four hits with no walks and four strikeouts to claim the win in the series' rubber match.

Wolf faced the minimum from the fourth through seventh innings to keep Houston off the board, though J.R. Towles got a hold of one in the eighth and sent it over the wall in left-center for a 4-1 game. John Axford worked around a one- out single in the ninth to record his fourth save of the season.

Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez (1-3) surrendered four runs on 10 hits and three walks while fanning nine. The lefty lasted seven innings and had two of Houston's five hits.

Bud Norris takes to the bump opposite Garcia at Minute Maid Park tonight. Norris will also be making his fifth start of the season but hasn't experienced the same results as this evening's counterpart. The 26-year-old right-hander has settled somewhat after a rough beginning to 2011 and worked six innings in a no-decision 4-3 win versus the Mets last Wednesday. He was touched for 10 hits but battled to give up only three runs with six strikeouts against a single walk. That followed a more impressive performance April 14 against San Diego where Norris fired six sharp two-hit frames in a 1-0 final to net his lone victory of 2011. He ended with seven strikeouts and three walks.

Norris went up against the Cardinals four times during the 2010 campaign, including opposite Garcia in the August 3, 18-4, Houston win. He was charged with all four St. Louis runs that day on seven hits over six innings. All told, Norris was 3-1 with a 3.38 earned run average versus the Cardinals last season. He's faced the Redbirds just two more times in his still short career and sports a solid 5-1 record alongside a 2.27 ERA.

The Astros won 10 of the 15 matchups with St. Louis a year ago.

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