KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Marwin Gonzalez, Luis Valbuena and Preston Tucker each slugged their first home runs of the spring to lead the Astros to a 6-3 win over the Cardinals in their Grapefruit League home opener on Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
After Gonzalez hit a solo blast to left field with one out in the first against Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, Valbuena followed a Carlos Correa walk with a mammoth blast over the right-field wall to put the Astros ahead, 3-0. Tucker's homer in the fourth pushed the lead to 4-2.
Garcia went two innings in his first start of the spring and allowed three runs, one walk and two hits while striking out three batters.
"It's the first game, and sometimes with the adrenaline you leave a couple pitches up," Garcia said. "A lot of times you get away with a couple of those. Today, I left two pitches up -- four-seamers, pitches I usually don't throw a lot of -- and they hit them out. They have a good lineup. No excuse."
Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden made his first appearance since July 2015 when he went on a rehab assignment. Walden, who suffered a rotator cuff injury last year and was limited to 12 games, struck out a pair in one scoreless inning.
Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez was sharp. The lefty retired six of the seven hitters he faced, including four via strikeout. He permitted only a Stephen Piscotty single in the first inning. Rodriguez is back with the Astros after pitching for them from 2005-12.
"Today, guys, I used a lot of my fastball and tried to locate it," Rodriguez said. "I used only two or three curveballs today, but threw a lot of fastballs and changeups."
Up next for Astros: Collin McHugh, a 19-game winner a year ago, makes his first start of the spring when the Astros meet the defending National League champion New York Mets at 12:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Osceola County Stadium.
Up next for the Cardinals: Outfielder Matt Holliday will appear in his first Grapefruit League game on Saturday, when the Cardinals face the Marlins in a 12:05 p.m. CT game at Roger Dean Stadium. Lefty Marco Gonzales is slated to start for the Cardinals against Miami's Wei-Yin Chen. This will be the second of seven spring meetings between the two clubs.