The St. Louis Cardinals have not homered in more than a week, but that didn’t stop them from winning their last series. Brad Penny(notes) will take whatever offensive help he can get as he looks to continue his outstanding pitching.
Penny tries for a seventh consecutive quality start as the Cardinals look to extend their home dominance over the punchless Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
St. Louis (20-12) hit 31 homers in its first 26 games, but has not gone deep during a 2-4 stretch. It’s the club’s longest home run drought since an eight-game stretch from April 19-26, 2008.
With power lacking, the Cardinals used a barrage of hits to take two of three from Pittsburgh, piling up 11 hits in an 11-4 victory Sunday. They had 13 in a 4-3 victory Friday.
“I guess we turned the page from our offense early in the year that was all about the homer. Now we’re stringing some hits together and working runs,” said right fielder Ryan Ludwick(notes), who had an RBI triple Sunday.
Penny (3-2, 1.99 ERA) won’t be picky about how his team scores Tuesday. The right-hander has received 10 runs of support in his six starts.
He pitched six innings and allowed three runs in each of his last two outings, but lost both. The Cardinals totaled two runs for him in those games - the most recent a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Manager Tony La Russa is happy that Penny has been giving his team a chance to win.
“It’s a good time in (Penny’s) career and he’s healthy,” La Russa told the team’s official website. “He was not healthy before, he’s healthy and he’s in his prime, so a lot of stuff he hears he understands now and he’s pitching as opposed to just firing. He’s been really good.”
Penny was superb in his last start against the Astros (10-21) on April 14, yielding an unearned run and three hits in seven innings of a 2-1 home win.
The Cardinals took two of three in that series and have won 15 of the last 20 meetings with Houston at Busch Stadium.
The Astros own the worst record in the NL, baseball’s lowest batting average at .225 and the worst run total with 85 - 17 fewer than Seattle.
The Astros have hit .206 while dropping 11 of 13, but erased a three-run, sixth-inning deficit in a 4-3 win over San Diego on Sunday. Hunter Pence’s(notes) double scored Lance Berkman(notes) in the 11th inning.
“It felt great to have everyone fighting up in the batter’s box, hitting some balls hard that found holes and clawing back into the game,” said Pence, who also had a single and solo homer Sunday after a 3-for-21 start to the month. “Every win, a little weight is lifted.”
Houston is beginning a difficult eight-game road trip. In addition to the Cardinals, the Astros take on San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Astros have won three of Myers’ four starts since then. He put the team in position to win again Wednesday, allowing two runs in seven innings before Carlos Lee(notes) hit a two-run walkoff homer in 4-2 victory over Arizona.