St. Louis manager Mike Matheny hopes the Cardinals' latest performance is the beginning of good things to come for his struggling team.
With their longest losing streak of the season over, the Cardinals open a three-game road series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
St. Louis (28-27) totaled one run while dropping the first three of a four-game series at New York, extending its losing skid to a season-high five. The Cardinals snapped out of it Monday, beating the Mets 5-4 behind three RBIs from Allen Craig, including a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning.
"Doesn't take much. Just a win,'' Matheny said. "That was much needed, and nobody needed it more than we did. It will change the atmosphere around here. You never know which win will be the one that helps you take off.''
Matheny's Cardinals still have their issues. They were no-hit Friday by Johan Santana and have struck out 68 times in their last seven games. Kyle Lohse allowed one run in six innings Monday, but that merely lowered the ERA of St. Louis' rotation to 7.03 ERA over the last six contests.
"You just got to keep working, keep fighting," said Matheny, whose team has lost nine of 11 on the road. "You've got to trust yourself.''
The Cardinals, who lost two of three at Houston in early May, hope Jaime Garcia (3-3, 3.78 ERA) is healthy enough to be effective Tuesday after his last start was skipped because of elbow discomfort. The left-hander underwent an MRI that did not show anything to be concerned about going forward.
"We'll be listening to him," Matheny told the Cardinals' official website. "If we see anything that looks out of the ordinary, we'll be checking with him in between innings."
Garcia, who allowed four runs in six innings of a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia in his last outing May 26, is 0-4 with a 6.89 ERA in six career starts against the Astros. He gave up six runs and walked four in six innings of an 8-2 loss at Minute Maid Park on May 5.
Craig is 6 for 17 (.353) with three home runs and nine RBIs in six career games at Houston.
The Astros (23-31) are also taking the field for the first time since snapping their longest losing streak of the season, an eight-game skid that ended Sunday with a 5-3 home win over Cincinnati.
First baseman Brett Wallace, called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to replace the injured Carlos Lee (hamstring), had two hits in his 2012 debut. He'd been batting .265 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs in 50 games in the minors.
"He's swinging the bat really well," manager Brad Mills told the Astros' official website. "He looks good swinging the bat and physically he looks good. I would encourage him to continue to do that."
Wallace, who appeared in 115 major league games last season, is batting .467 (14 for 30) in 11 games against the Cardinals at MInute Maid Park.
The Astros will give the ball to Springfield, Missouri native Lucas Harrell (4-4, 4.71), who allowed four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory over St. Louis on May 4. The right-hander hopes to bounce back after yielding career highs of nine runs and 10 hits in five innings of Wednesday's 13-5 loss at Colorado.
Houston starters have compiled an 8.29 ERA over the last nine games.