One of the Astros’ lone bright spots this season has been more than that in his career against the Cardinals, whom Norris will seek to beat for a fifth time in as many starts at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night.
St. Louis (24-19) bounced back from a three-game losing streak with a two-game sweep of Philadelphia this week, as Jake Westbrook(notes) and Jaime Garcia(notes) managed to outduel Cliff Lee(notes) and Roy Oswalt(notes) in a pair of tight games.
“You’re facing Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, that’s a pretty daunting task,” said Lance Berkman(notes), who singled home Jon Jay(notes) in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday to lift the Cardinals to a 2-1 win. “You figure if you can get one of those, you’ll feel pretty good about ourselves and … we were able to get both of them.”
St. Louis now moves from the NL’s best team to its worst, but Wednesday’s game likely won’t be easy.
That’s because when Norris (2-2, 3.42 ERA) faces the Cardinals, it’s difficult to tell he doesn’t share the same All-Star credentials Lee and Oswalt do. Houston’s right-hander, who has all of 17 career victories in 45 starts, is 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA in seven outings against St. Louis.
Norris has been especially good at Busch Stadium, going 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA, though he’s 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA away from home this season.
Norris gave up three unearned runs in six innings while striking out eight at home against the Cardinals on May 26, a game Houston (15-27) rallied to win 6-5.
He’s piled up the strikeouts this month, posting 28 in three starts while lasting seven innings in each, but he has just one win to show for it. Norris had a 4-0 lead Friday against the Mets, but gave up one in the seventh and was charged with three more in the eighth before ultimately leaving without a decision in the Astros’ 6-4 loss.
“He definitely deserved a little better fate with the way things (happened),” Mills said. “We left a lot of guys on.”
That’s become a common theme with Houston. The Astros left 10 men on Tuesday in Atlanta, and wound up surrendering a tying solo homer to Brian McCann(notes) in the ninth and a two-run shot to the catcher in the 11th, wasting eight strong innings from Wandy Rodriguez(notes) in a 3-1 loss.
“Sometimes we play a good game and we lose,” Rodriguez said.
Kyle Lohse(notes) (4-2, 2.31) has deserved a far better fate in his last two starts. The right-hander took a tough-luck home loss May 7 against Milwaukee despite allowing one run in eight innings, then watched the Cardinals’ bullpen cough up a lead Friday in Cincinnati. Lohse gave up two runs in six innings and left with a 5-2 lead, but St. Louis fell 6-5 in 10.
He might fare better back at Busch Stadium, where Cardinals starters are 3-1 with a 0.68 ERA in their last five home starts.
Lohse, who held the Astros to four hits over seven scoreless innings in a 6-5 win at Minute Maid Park on April 27, is 6-3 with a 2.55 ERA in the series since arriving in St. Louis in 2008. Carlos Lee(notes) is 3 for 23 (.130) against him in that span.