Cardinals-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

A visit to Houston might be what Adam Wainwright needs to bounce back from one of his roughest outings of the season.

The St. Louis right-hander looks to continue his dominance over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night while trying to help the Cardinals avoid slipping below .500 for the first time in 2012.

Wainwright (4-6, 4.98 ERA) had allowed just a run over 15 innings while winning his previous two starts, but was tagged for seven over 6 1-3 in Friday night's 8-0 loss at New York as Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history.

"After two innings, I really thought I was going to throw a no-hitter," Wainwright told the Cardinals' official website. "I felt great."

Wainwright has usually pitched great against Houston, going 10-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 12 starts. He allowed a run and struck out seven in seven innings of an 8-1 victory May 6 to improve to 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA in five starts at Minute Maid.

"I don't think it had anything to do with who I was facing, it was more just going out there executing,'' Wainwright said.

He hopes to help the Cardinals (28-28) even the set after falling 9-8 on Tuesday. Jaime Garcia allowed six runs in two innings to raise the ERA of St. Louis starters to 7.24 ERA over the last eight games.

Losers in six of seven and 17 of 25, the Cardinals face a stiff test against scheduled starter Bud Norris (5-2, 4.52).

The right-hander, 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 11 starts versus St. Louis, allowed a run, three hits and overcame four walks in six innings of an 8-2 home victory over the Cardinals on May 5. He's yielded four runs - two earned - and eight hits despite walking 11 in 20 innings while going 2-0 in his last three starts against the reigning World Series champions.

Norris was 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last six starts overall before being charged with a career-high nine runs and exiting after 1 2-3 innings because of a strained hip flexor tendon in Thursday's 11-5 loss at Colorado. Despite the injury, he appears ready to pitch Wednesday.

"He said he was feeling good and that's a good thing," manager Brad Mills told the Astros' official website. "I feel very confident with him making that start."

Jose Altuve tied a career high with four hits while Justin Maxwell and Brian Bogusevic each homered Tuesday as Houston (24-31) won its second straight following an eight-game skid.

Altuve, 14 for 28 in his last six games, is batting .442 in 10 career games versus St. Louis.

"We did a good job of putting some runs up early, and we needed every single one," said Maxwell, who has hit a two-run homer in consecutive games.

Rafael Furcal and Matt Adams each homered for St. Louis. Allen Craig added two hits, and is batting .405 (15 for 37) in 12 career games versus Houston.