Cardinals Bats Held In Check By Astros Pitching

Houston Astros

Photo: AP

HOUSTON (AP) — Bud Norris took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and teamed with Mark Melancon hold the St. Louis Cardinals to two hits in the Houston Astros’ 4-1 win Wednesday night.Norris (4-4) pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing only former Astro Lance Berkman’s solo homer with two outs. The blast on the fifth pitch of the at bat sailed just over the glove of Hunter Pence and into the stands in right field. Norris watched the play before pounding his hand in his glove and wiping sweat from his cheek.

The 26-year-old in his second full season in the majors relied on fastballs thrown between 90-95 mph mixed with sliders and changeups to keep the Cardinals off balance.

Melancon yielded a two-out double to Albert Pujols in the ninth before retiring Berkman for his sixth save.

Norris, who entered the game averaging more than a strikeout an inning in his 50 previous major league appearances, struck out two and walked five in a game that tied the longest outing of his career.

Pence had an RBI triple to extend his career-best hitting streak to 19 games and help snap a four-game skid for the Astros.

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia (6-2) allowed seven hits and three runs in five innings.

Norris walked the leadoff batter in the first, fourth and fifth innings, but faced the minimum through five thanks to three double plays by Houston’s defence.

He walked Matt Carpenter with one out in the sixth, but got his first strikeout of the game to retire pinch hitter Daniel Descalso before sitting down Ryan Theriot.

Clint Barmes made a diving catch on a ball hit by Jon Jay for the first out of the seventh inning. Norris pumped his fist excitedly after Barmes made the belly-flopping grab. Pujols followed with a long fly out to centre field before the homer by Berkman, who played 12 seasons for the Astros before a trade last year.

Berkman, who also homered on Tuesday night, was booed as he rounded the bases on his 14th home run that made it 3-1.

Norris walked Carpenter with two outs in the eighth inning before he struck out pinch hitter Mark Hamilton.

The speedy Jason Bourgeois, who was making his first start since coming off the disabled list on this weekend, singled in the fifth inning before stealing second base and reaching third on a lineout by Jeff Keppinger. He made it 3-0 by scoring on a single by Jason Michaels.

Keppinger singled with one out in the third inning before scoring on Pence’s triple that landed near the back of Tal’s Hill in centre field. Pence came home on a groundout by Carlos Lee to put Houston up 2-0.

The Astros got no-out doubles in the first and second innings, but were unable to string together enough hits to score in those innings.

J.R. Towles doubled before scoring on a single by Michael Bourn to push the lead to 4-1 in the eighth inning.

NOTES: There are now two Rasmus brothers in the Cardinals’ organisation after St. Louis drafted Colby Rasmus’s brother Casey in the 36th round Wednesday. Casey is a catcher from Liberty University. “That’s always been what we grew up on was trying making it to the big leagues or play pro ball and he’s going to get that taste now,” Colby said. “I’m super excited for him.” … Former Houston INF Bill Hall has cleared waivers and is a free agent. He was placed on waivers by the Astros for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release on Friday. … St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said the soonest he expects to use closer Fernando Salas will be Friday after he threw 44 pitches in a two-inning save on Tuesday. … Cardinals OF Allen Craig is listed as day to day after injuring his right knee crashing into a fence while chasing a foul ball on Tuesday night. … Houston reliever Brandon Lyon said he felt good and didn’t have any pain in his arm on Wednesday after throwing 10 pitches in his second rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City a night before. Lyon is on the 15-day DL with right biceps tendinitis and a partial right rotator cuff tear.

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