The Houston Astros have not played any better under their new manager than they did for the old one.
Facing Kyle Lohse won't make interim manager Tony DeFrancesco's next attempt at his first win any easier.
Lohse looks to continue his recent dominance while trying to help the St. Louis Cardinals hand the lowly Astros a sixth consecutive loss Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
Houston (39-84) has been outscored 15-1 in two games since DeFrancesco replaced the fired Brad Mills over the weekend. The Astros, who were limited to five hits and struck out 12 times against Adam Wainwright in Tuesday's 7-0 loss at St. Louis, have dropped 41 of 48."It's kind of like you get beat down and the big guy keeps hitting you," DeFrancesco said.
Things only get tougher against Lohse (12-2, 2.61 ERA), who is 6-0 with a 2.18 ERA in last 11 starts since losing to Kansas City on June 15.
The right-hander has allowed one run, 12 hits and struck out 18 while going 1-0 in his last three outings. Lohse gave up four hits in 6 2-3 innings but closer Jason Motte could not hold a 1-0 ninth-inning lead in a 2-1 loss to Arizona on Thursday.
"We keep saying the same thing over and over, but we've been very impressed with just how he comes out and makes his pitches," manager Mike Matheny told the Cardinals' official website. "He gets into a position for us to win."
Lohse's first loss of the season came May 4 at Houston, when he allowed five runs - three earned - in five innings of a 5-4 defeat. He's 8-7 with a 2.77 ERA in 16 starts against the Astros.
Despite missing Carlos Beltran for the second straight game because of a right hand injury, the Cardinals (66-56) broke out Tuesday after scoring 10 runs while losing three of the previous four. It's uncertain when Beltran, 4 for 23 with eight strikeouts in his last six games, will return.
Jon Jay and Yadier Molina each had three hits while Allen Craig extended his hitting streak to 10 games for the Cardinals. Jay is 6 for 14 in the last two games after going 0 for 9 in his previous four. Molina is 8 for 14 with four RBIs in the last three following a 2-for-14 slump.
Craig is batting .410 (16 for 39) in his last 10 games overall, and .438 (21 for 48) in 15 career games versus Houston. He's 4 for 8 with a homer against Bud Norris (5-10, 5.23), who appears healthy enough to take the ball after he left last Wednesday's 7-2 loss at Chicago in the fourth inning when he was hit in the foot by a line drive.
Norris, 0-9 with a 6.98 ERA in 13 starts since beating the Cubs on May 21, allowed six runs and three homers in 3 1-3 innings of his last outing.
"It's been frustrating," Norris told the Astros' official website. "I have to keep plugging away."
The right-hander is 7-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 12 starts versus St. Louis, including 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two at home in 2012. Norris is 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA in six career starts at Busch Stadium.
Houston All-Star Jose Altuve is 10 for 25 (.400) in his last six games. He's 2 for 3 with a homer versus Lohse.
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
|August 02, 2012||Francisco Cordero||15-Day DL||Inflamed right big toe|
|July 31, 2012||Wilton Lopez||Day-to-Day||Right elbow tightness|
|July 15, 2012||Jed Lowrie||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 14, 2012||Jed Lowrie||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|July 08, 2012||Jason Castro||15-Day DL||Fluid in right knee|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|August 21, 2012||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Right hand injury|
|August 16, 2012||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 08, 2012||Allen Craig||Day-to-Day||Sore ribs|
|August 03, 2012||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|July 28, 2012||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|July 26, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Left game - right calf cramp|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Kyle Lohse is on quite a roll, and it comes at an opportune time for the right-hander and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lohse pitched seven innings of three-hit ball to earn his seventh consecutive win and the Cardinals beat the Houston Astros 4-2 on Wednesday night.
Lohse (13-2), who could become a free agent after this season, gave up two runs and retired his last 14 batters. He is 7-0 with a 2.21 ERA in 12 starts since he dropped a 3-2 decision against Kansas City on June 15.
"I felt really good," he said. "I felt in command."
The Cardinals have won consecutive games to grab a half-game lead on Pittsburgh for the second wild-card spot in the National League.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said he is not immune to scoreboard watching at this time of the year.
"We're fans of the game," he said. "We do pay attention. We try not to look up there too often because we do believe we control our destiny by how we play the game.
"But it would be a lie to say we didn't pay attention to what other people in the league are doing."
Mitchell Boggs worked the eighth and Jason Motte finished for his 29th save in 34 chances, completing a three-hitter.
Allen Craig extended his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games with a first-inning single and scored a run for St. Louis. Jon Jay , Daniel Descalso and Yadier Molina each drove in a run.
Jay also helped save the game with a leaping catch at the wall on a drive by Brett Wallace with one out in the sixth.
"He just did everything right," Matheny said of Jay. "He's just an impressive player. He's aggressive out there, and fun to watch."
Wallace and Chris Snyder homered for the Astros, who are winless in three games under interim manager Tony DeFrancesco. Houston, which dropped to 12-50 on the road, has lost six straight and is just 7-42 since June 28.
Bud Norris (5-11) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings to fall to 0-10 with a 6.78 ERA in his last 14 starts.
"I didn't have my best slider tonight but I worked both sides of the plate with my fastball and tried to make some pitches," Norris said. "They snuck a couple across and they got the win."
Wallace went deep in the first and Snyder connected in the third to give the Astros a 2-1 lead. In his previous three starts in August, Lohse had allowed a single run in 19 2-3 innings of work.
"I threw a slider trying to throw it on Wallace's hands and it broke straight down and kind of right on his bat," Lohse said. "That was a mistake. Then I left one up for Snyder. Other than that, I felt like I made my pitches."
St. Louis went ahead for good in the fifth. Rafael Furcal hit a leadoff single, moved up on Lohse's sacrifice and scored on Jay's single to right. Jay eventually scampered home on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.
Molina singled in Matt Holliday in the eighth.
NOTES: Jake Westbrook (12-9) will pitch for the Cardinals in the series finale against Dallas Keuchel (1-5). St. Louis announced a $9.75 million, one-year contract with Westbrook on Tuesday that includes a mutual option for 2014. ... Houston's Jose Altuve had a double to give him 139 hits, tops among second baseman in the NL. ... Lohse had not allowed two home runs in a game since a 10-7 loss against Atlanta on May 30.