HOUSTON - The St. Louis Cardinals followed a seven-run fourth inning with a trio of two-run home runs and slugged their way to a 13-5 victory over the Houston Astros Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Carlos Beltran, David Freese and Allen Craig bashed their 18th, fifth and seventh home runs, respectively, in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings off three different Houston pitchers: left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Travis Blackley, and right-hander Josh Fields. That onslaught stemmed the tide of the Astros' four-run sixth that cut their deficit to five runs.
The ample run support enabled right-hander Jake Westbrook (4-2) to depart after tossing 84 pitches over six innings. The Cardinals (48-29) snapped a three-game skid in the fourth game of their 11-game stretch of interleague contests. Houston (29-49) fell to 7-7 in interleague play.
Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell endured his fourth miserable home start of the season, coming undone in a fourth inning he failed to escape.
Incidentally, Harrell was at his best in the third, retiring Pete Kozma, Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina on called third strikes for a perfect frame. But Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran opened the fourth with a double, the first of four consecutive batters to reach against Harrell.
Allen Craig followed with an RBI single before Harrell encountered his bugaboo: free passes. He walked three of the next four batters, including Jon Jay with the bases loaded to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead. Kozma followed with a run-scoring single before Carpenter added a three-run triple that cleared the bases and boosted the Cardinals' lead to 6-0.
Molina then chased Harrell with an RBI single. Harrell surrendered seven runs on seven hits and four walks with five strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings. All four of the appearances in which Harrell has allowed at least six earned runs this season have come at Minute Maid Park.
Cardinals right-hander Jake Westbrook carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez opened that frame with a home run, his 11th, and designated hitter Brett Wallace added a two-run triple to left-center. Catcher Jason Castro followed with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Wallace, that pulled the Astros to within 9-4.
NOTES: Cardinals designated hitter Matt Holliday was inserted into the fifth spot in the batting order for the first time this season. Holliday hit third in his previous 70 starts, with St. Louis manager Mike Matheny making the change hoping to snap Holliday out of his 0-for-11 slump. Holliday singled to right field in his first at-bat. ... Following his recall from Triple-A Oklahoma City, infielder Brett Wallace was installed as the designated hitter for the first time this season. Wallace made six starts and first base and one at third prior to his demotion on April 18.