In a battle of struggling starters Cardinals hurler Kyle McClellan was able to get right while his Astros counterpart, JA Happ got blasted.
McClellan was fantastic over seven innings. He allowed one run on six hits and walked none while striking out five. Don't be fooled into thinking he beat up on a bad team. The Astros may have a lousy record. But it's because they can't pitch. They led the National League in batting average at the start of the game.
While the Cardinals usually find a way to make lousy starters look great, Happ didn't get that courtesy. He gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks. He also got some help from lousy defense behind him. Houston left fielder Jason Bourgeois looked as if he'd never played in the outfield before. In the fifth inning Bourgeois misplayed a ball that rolled past him toward the warning track and allowed a pair of runs to score. It extended the inning for St. Louis Catcher Yadier Molina who homered for the third time in four games to open the game up 8-1.
But what seemed to be a laugher got unnecessarily tense in the top of the eighth when PJ Walters came in and allowed a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. Carlos "Don't Call me Cliff" Lee came to the plate and fouled off pitch after pitch with two strikes until he got something he could handle and he rainbowed a home run just inside the left field foul pole for a grand slam. Suddenly the score was 8-5.
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Fortunately, the Redbirds batsmen responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to make the score 10-5 and it ended that way when reliever Jason Motte finished the game with a double play.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Yadier Molina was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBIs. He hit his eighth homer of the season.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Colby Rasmus' towering fifth inning homer. He also could have received the play of the game nod for his inning ending catch in the Astros eighth. If he didn't lay out to make the snag, Houston would have gone from seven runs down to having the tying run at the plate.
Lowlight: Lance Berkman missed playing against his old club with what the Cardinals say is a strained rotator cuff. David Freese left the game early. Although the Redbirds didn't mention any health problems, it was painful to watch him run. It seems like his bad wheels are giving him problems again.