St. Louis (37-26) at Houston (24-38)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Thu Jun 9, 2011
  • TV: FSMW, FSH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

As he tries to avoid becoming the first eight-game loser in the National League, Houston’s J.A. Happ(notes) may look to teammate Bud Norris(notes) for some pitching tips.

After Norris flirted with a no-hitter, Happ will try to help the last-place Astros take two of three from the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

Norris, who had never allowed fewer than two hits during any start in his two-plus-year career, carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before former teammate Lance Berkman(notes) homered with two out. That was the only hit allowed by Norris, who walked five in eight innings and evened his record at 4-4.

“I’ve always said this dude has great stuff, great mentality and reminds me a lot of Roger Clemens with his aggressiveness and mound presence,” Berkman said of Norris. “That’s about as high of praise as I can give somebody.”

Mark Melancon(notes) surrendered a two-out double to Albert Pujols(notes), but picked up his fifth save in as many chances since May 20.

The loss snapped the Cardinals’ four-game winning streak, but they still own the best road record in the majors at 19-14.

“We got outplayed and outpitched, so they won the game,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

Happ (3-7, 4.65 ERA) now seeks his first victory in five starts.

Though Happ has posted a 3.13 ERA since beating the New York Mets on May 14, he’s 0-3. The dry spell began with a 4-2 loss on May 19 at St. Louis.

Houston has dropped each of the left-hander’s last four appearances, providing him with only seven runs of support. Last Friday at San Diego, Happ allowed three runs in six innings of the Astros’ 3-1 setback.

Happ, who joined the Astros (24-38) on July 29 as part of the trade that sent Roy Oswalt(notes) to Philadelphia, is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA against the Cardinals at Minute Maid Park. He tossed a two-hitter en route to a 3-0 win August 30 for his third and most recent career shutout.

Washington’s Livan Hernandez(notes) and San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner(notes), also saddled with seven losses, are scheduled to start later Thursday.

Hunter Pence(notes) had a run-scoring triple in the third inning Wednesday and is hitting .383 in a career-best 19-game hitting streak. St. Louis was the last team to hold Pence hitless.

Lance Lynn(notes) (0-1, 8.44) hopes to stop Pence’s run while making his second major league start for the Cardinals (37-26).

Working on just three days’ rest Thursday against San Francisco, the right-hander retired the first 10 batters before struggling. He gave up five runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings as St. Louis fell 12-7.

“I felt good and it’s good to get it under my belt,” Lynn said. “I need to keep pushing and fighting to get deeper into games.”

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Starting Pitchers

L. Lynn StL vs. J. Happ Pit
1-1 Record 6-15
3.12 ERA 5.35
40 K 134
11 BB 83
1.04 WHIP 1.54

Scoreboard

Thursday, Jun 9