HOUSTON -- The radar gun at Minute Maid Park told the tale of what Astros left-hander Erik Bedard had remaining in his tank, even as the St. Louis Cardinals issued another challenge to his tenuous one-run lead.
Bedard found a little extra oomph on his fastball in the sixth inning and, armed with welcome run support, helped Houston earn a split of its interleague series with a 4-3 win Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Bedard (3-3) recorded his third consecutive quality start and that, combined with the Astros' four-run fourth inning and exceptional work from their bullpen, proved sufficient in stifling the Cardinals (48-30).
After Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday advanced into scoring position with a one-out double in the sixth, Bedard touched 92-plus miles per hour on four occasions in retiring David Freese and Shane Robinson.
"I really felt like his curveball was his go-to pitch today," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Bedard. "It had a little bit more depth than he's had pretty much all year. And you look at that sixth inning, he had been pitching right at 89-90 the entire game and that sixth inning he kind of emptied the tank and reared back and you looked up and there were a couple 92s, 93s. He really rubbed the ball up and just gave it everything he had to get out of that inning, and it was good to see."
Josh Fields and Wesley Wright combined to work a perfect seventh inning for the Astros (30-49) before Jose Cisnero and Jose Veras worked around three base runners to preserve the advantage.
Veras recorded his 16th save despite allowing pinch hitters Jon Jay and Matt Adams to reach base in succession with one out in the ninth inning.
Two pitches into his 14th start, Bedard faced a 2-0 deficit courtesy of an infield single from Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter and a two-run home run to left field by Yadier Molina, who was manning first base for just the second time in his career.
Carpenter and Molina swung at the first pitch of their respective at-bats, and when Bedard surrendered a sharp single to center to St. Louis' third batter, designated hitter Carlos Beltran, he appeared on the brink of trouble. But Bedard induced a double-play grounder from Allen Craig and recovered to pitch elusively through six innings of work.
Craig cranked a leadoff home run off Bedard in the fourth inning and Bedard allowed three additional base hits before his stint concluded. But Craig represented the final tally against Bedard, who allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk with six strikeouts.
"He never looks like he gets too rattled, and he continues to make good pitches," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Bedard. "But we had good chances, and so did they. We just couldn't put anything together."
As they did in the sixth inning of the series opener, the Astros rallied with a four-run frame, this time in the fourth inning off Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (10-2). The first four batters of the fourth reached against Lynn, with Carlos Pena working a bases-loaded walk that scored Jose Altuve before J.D. Martinez and Brett Wallace delivered RBIs.
Center fielder Brandon Barnes capped the inning with a run-scoring single to center that scored Wallace and pushed Houston to a 4-3 lead.
"He left a couple of balls up, and we put good swings on them," Barnes said. "We just tried to do what we do and grind out at-bats and try to get on somehow."
Lynn finished one out shy of recording his first career complete game and, aside from his struggles in the fourth, pitched efficiently and effectively. Lynn allowed just four additional base runners and retired the Astros in order in the second, third, sixth and seventh innings. Had Carlos Pena not reached on a wild pitch following his strikeout in the eighth, Lynn would have capped his outing with 10 consecutive outs.
"A loss is a loss," Lynn said. "When you get a three-run lead and give them four runs right back, it's a bad outing. That's just plain and simple. That's how it is."
NOTES: Right-hander Ross Seaton and left-hander Wade LeBlanc both cleared waivers on Wednesday and were outrighted to Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City, respectively. The Astros designated both for assignment last week. ... The Cardinals activated right-hander Fernando Salas from the 15-day disabled list and assigned him to Triple-A Memphis. Salas was placed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation on May 21.