Altuve fastest Astro to 1,000 hits
(c) Houston Chronicle
The St. Louis Cardinals returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since 2013 Tuesday night and rumbled to an 8-5 victory over the Astros. Jose Altuve's ninth inning single was his third hit of the game and the 1,000th of his career, but it wasn't enough to overcome a powerful performance by the Cardinals' offense.
Dallas Keuchel, who was charged with six runs ons six hits in five innings of work, called it his "most frustrating loss of the season". Making his first start since the clunker that was thankfully washed away by rain last week in Minnesota, Keuchel had a tough first inning but settled in nicely.
A leadoff double by Tommy Pham and a barrage of well-placed grounders pushed St.Louis out to a quick 2-run lead.
Alex Bregman's first career home run, a 2-run opposite-field blast against Jaime Garcia, tied the game at two in the bottom of the first. The Astros failed to capitalize on a chance to take the lead. With two on and nobody out, Marwin Gonzalez surprisingly bunted the runners over. His sacrifice went for naught when Evan Gattis popped up and Teoscar Hernandez lined hard to center to end the threat.
Gonzalez took a full swing when he came up leading off the bottom of the third and launched a go-ahead dinger into the Crawfords. The Astros added another run in the fourth when Altuve singled home Jake Marisnick, who had doubled to start the inning.
Randal Grichuk's fifth inning double ended a streak of eleven straight Cardinals retired by Keuchel. Tommy Pham's 2-out 2-run homer knotted the game at four before Keuchel froze Stephen Piscotty for his seventh strikeout of the game to end the inning.
Keuchel's first walk of the game turned out to be costly. After Matt Carpenter got the benefit of the call on a borderline 3-2 pitch, Brandon Moss singled to knock Keuchel out of the game. Pat Neshek came in from the bullpen carrying a 2.34 ERA but experienced a rare meltdown. A 3-run homer by Jed Gyorko capped a 4-run inning that the Astros were unable to overcome. Jason Castro's solo blast in the bottom of the sixth made it 8-5 and that was how it ended.
Chris Devenski and Ken Giles quieted the Cardinals bats over the final three innings but a trio of St. Louis relievers also matched their efforts.
The loss drops the Astros to 61-58 for the season, leaving them nine games out of the division lead and 5.5 games behind in the race for the final wildcard.
The interleague rivals finish off the swift 2-game series with a 1:10 businessman's special Wednesday with Doug Fister going to the mound against St. Louis right-hander Carlos Martinez.
- Greg Thurston