St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals waste strong effort by Wainwright

After what the St. Louis Cardinals have been through, veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright said an off day Thursday could be just what they need.

St. Louis lost to Houston 4-1 on Wednesday night as the Astros swept the two-game set at Busch Stadium. The losses followed a 5-1 road trip in which the Cardinals’ offense was overpowering, averaging 7 1/2 runs in their victories.

But Houston pitchers Doug Fister on Tuesday and Collin McHugh on Wednesday quieted the bats, which couldn’t deliver a win for Wainwright in his best outing of the season.

“It was a a tough loss,” said Wainwright, who exited after seven innings with the Cardinals ahead 1-0. “We had them right where we needed.”

The Cardinals will return to action at 7:15 p.m. Friday against the Texas Rangers, who will appear at Busch Stadium for the second time since the 2011 World Series. Texas swept a three-game series from St. Louis in June 2013.

We had a chance to win both those games. Tough teams sometimes find a way to beat you.

Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright on the two losses to Houston

“Off days are great. We love off days,” Wainwright said. “I wish we had five more of them during the season. Off days at home, especially, are great.

“We had a chance to win both those games. Tough teams sometimes find a way to beat you. We pitched well. We just didn’t have the timely hits like they did at times. That’s what happens. Our offense has carried us all year. Our starting pitchers are now starting to turn the corner where we’re pitching some good games going forward. That’s the way baseball works.”

Bullpen, offense falters

Kevin Siegrist allowed a two-out walk to Evan Gattis and a two-run homer to George Springer in the eighth Wednesday, and Trevor Rosenthal permitted two more runs in the ninth that sealed the outcome. The homer against Siegrist (4-2) was the fifth in 26 innings this season.

St. Louis had been 26-0 when leading after seven innings.

The Cardinals turned three double plays behind Wainwright, catcher Yadier Molina threw out Jose Altuve attempting to steal and Matt Adams shined with the glove at first base.

The only run, however, the Cardinals could muster against McHugh came in the seventh when pinch-hitter Greg Garcia drove in Molina with a single to right. Molina had three hits and Matt Carpenter had two for St. Louis, which finished with eight.

Piscotty’s gamble

St. Louis rapped into a double play in the first, and lost Piscotty at the plate in the fifth on a strong throw from right fielder Springer after he fielded Jhonny Peralta’s hit on a bounce.

I wasn’t watching, but I heard he made a nice sliding pickup and then made a good throw, which is tough to do. I gambled in that situation.

The Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty on being thrown out at the plate by George Springer in the fifth inning

“I wasn’t watching, but I heard he made a nice sliding pickup and then made a good throw, which is tough to do,” Piscotty said. “I gambled in that situation.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was OK with Piscotty pushing the issue.

“He had to make a perfect play,” Matheny said of Springer. “He came up and threw it right on the money with his back turned to the field. It was a good play.”

The Cardinals fumbled another chance in the fifth, an inning in which it had two doubles, a single and a walk but failed to score against McHugh.

Wainwright trending up

Wainwright, who allowed no runs on four hits in seven innings, with three walks and six strikeouts, had won his last seven starts against the Astros since Aug. 25, 2009.

But the big picture is promising for the 34-year-old, whose ERA has dropped from 6.80 on May 12 to 4.78 on Wednesday. In his last six starts, Wainwright’s ERA is 2.50 over 39 2/3 innings.

“A lot of those (Houston) hitters, I’ve faced a bunch,” Wainwright said. “I’ve faced (Luis) Valbuena a ton and (Carlos) Gomez a bunch. I can remember the days facing (Jason) Castro a lot. So a lot of those guys, I was familiar with. But there were a lot them that I was not familiar with. In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about them until watching film of them.

“It was fun. I like facing new guys. I like facing guys that don’t have 80 at-bats off me in their career. The pitcher always has the advantage anyway, but when they don’t have a lot of at-bats off your stuff, it’s always new to them.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

Astros 4, Cardinals 1

George Springer clobbered a two-run homer to right-center against Kevin Siegrist in the eighth and Houston added two more runs in the ninth against Trevor Rosenthal to complete the victory Wednesday that gave it a sweep in the two-game set at Busch Stadium.

By the numbers

Adam Wainwright was brilliant despite receiving a no-decision. The veteran right-hander yielded no runs on four hits in seven innings, walked three and struck out six. He left with a 1-0 lead until the bullpen coughed it up. ... Yadier Molina registered three of the Cardinals’ eight hits, while Matt Carpenter had two. ... Greg Garcia drove in St. Louis’ only run with a pinch-hit single in the seventh against Collin McHugh.

Up next

vs. Texas, Michael Wacha (2-6, 4.91 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (6-1, 3.14 ERA), 7:15 p.m. Friday