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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