The steps may be small, but the Houston Astros are finally showing signs of life after a dismal stretch.
Houston looks to record consecutive wins for the first time in more than two weeks on Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game home series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Astros (23-32) used a big offensive performance Saturday for their second win in three games following a nine-game losing streak - their longest since September 1996.
“It was beautiful to come out there and swing the bats the way we swung them today,” Everett said. “Hopefully that’s just a sign of some things to come. We need to get going.”
A punchless offense was the main culprit during the losing streak, with the Astros scoring 20 runs over the nine games. They have scored 19 runs in the past three contests, even factoring in an 8-1 loss in Friday’s series opener.
Although the Astros are 14th in the NL in runs scored (460) and batting average (.249), Lee leads the league with 52 RBIs. He has two homers and 11 RBIs in his last seven games.
Saturday’s defeat prevented the Cardinals (23-30) from matching a season-best four-game winning streak.
St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds continued his recent resurgence with his sixth home run of the season and his fifth in nine games. He is hitting .322 (10-for-31) with eight RBIs in that stretch.
Third baseman Scott Rolen sat out Saturday after injuring his right hamstring in the series opener. He is not expected to play Sunday.
Shortstop David Eckstein, though, hopes to return. He did not play Saturday after he was hit on the elbow by a pitch Friday.
Jason Jennings (0-1, 2.12 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season and his second since April 8 for Houston. The right-hander was very effective Tuesday against Cincinnati in his first outing since coming off the disabled list, yielding three hits in five scoreless innings. Jennings, who went on the DL with tendinitis in his right elbow, was disappointed that he tired so quickly.
“I’m not a five-inning guy, I don’t want to be a five-inning guy,” said Jennings, who did not receive a decision in Houston’s 2-1 loss. “I’m going to work to get that arm strength back, try to go a little deeper in the game. Other than that, I was pretty pleased.”
Jennings’ only decision of the season came in a 10-1 loss to St. Louis on April 8. He gave up three runs and five hits over six innings in that game.
Cardinals right-hander Braden Looper (6-4, 3.65) struggled for the second time in three starts Tuesday in an 8-3 loss at Colorado. He lasted 5 2-3 innings, giving up six runs and seven hits with a season-high five walks.
He has allowed five runs or more in half of his last six starts, but has a 0.94 ERA in his other three outings during that span.
Looper limited the Astros to one run and six hits though six innings in a 3-1 victory on May 6 in his first career start against them. He is 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA in 31 total games versus Houston.