By Jenifer Langosch and Brian McTaggart
ST. LOUIS -- Returning to Busch Stadium for the first time since 2013, the Astros put a stop to the Cardinals' five-game winning streak behind a quality start from Doug Fister and plentiful production from the bottom half of their order. The 5-2 win on Tuesday night assures the Astros of no worse than a series split in this brief St. Louis stopover.
The bottom four spots in Houston's order finished 7-for-13, scored all five runs and drove in four of them. That production included a solo homer by former Cardinals can't-miss prospect Colby Rasmus, who last homered at Busch Stadium on July 25, 2011, one day before the Cardinals traded him to Toronto. That home run, ironically, came against Houston.
Carlos Gomez tallied a pair of hits and scored three runs from the seven-hole, and Fister helped his own cause by pushing a one-run lead to three with a seventh-inning two-RBI hit. On the mound, he delivered a strong 7 1/3-inning performance that was marred only by a pair of solo homers. Cards starter Jaime Garcia lasted 6 1/3 innings and was charged with four runs, three earned.
"Terrible," Garcia said of his performance. "It's not good enough."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Big night for Fister: As if winning his sixth consecutive decision wasn't enough, Fister shone at the plate with a sac bunt and a two-run single in the seventh that gave the Astros a 5-2 lead. The Astros have won each of his last nine starts, and he leads the club in quality starts (10), which have all been in his last 11 outings. The Astros are 9-2 in those games.
"It starts and almost ends with him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He had an incredible game in all aspects, except for the bobble with the bunt [to start the game]. What a game. He was in command of his pitches. They attacked him early and he attacked the zone with a lot of confidence. He changed his game plan a little bit to pitch to a couple of areas where he doesn't normally pitch, but all in all what a wonderful effort by him." More >
Bash brothers: What was once expected to be a Cardinals lineup that included either Brandon Moss or Matt Adams has recently been featuring both. Tuesday served as a reminder why, too. Both players knocked solo homers, with Adams' second-inning shot giving the Cardinals an early advantage and Moss' later pulling the Cards to within one. Moss' 379-foot homer was his 15th of the season and his seventh in the team's last 12 games. More >
"He'll throw anything anytime," Moss said of Fister. "My goal was if I'm a little late on the fastball, it'll go to the opposite field. But you can't really look fastball on him or two-seamer or cutter, you've just got to look in the middle of the plate. You can't really sit anything with him."
Welcome back, (Colby) Jack: In his first appearance at Busch Stadium since the Cardinals traded him away in the 2011 season, Rasmus went 2-for-4, including a solo homer in the fifth inning that gave the Astros the lead for good. Rasmus hit 50 homers for the Cardinals from 2009-11. More >
"It was good feeling," Rasmus said. "Now I'm on the other side of the coin, but it's all good. I'm just glad we were able to get a W tonight."
Oh, no:Seung Hwan Oh, the Cardinals' stingiest reliever this season, couldn't help Garcia get through the seventh unscathed. Oh inherited one runner, and he watched the inning become even more complicated when Adams muffed a grounder to first. Just when it looked like he might navigate the trouble, Fister snuck through a two-run single. Both of the runs were unearned.
"Who knew their pitcher was going to come up and put up the kind of at-bat that nobody else in the league has really been able to do against Oh all season?" Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He doesn't put it up there on a tee for anybody. He's nasty. The guy just put a good pass on the ball. Sometimes you have to tip your cap."
"We always talk about it being fun for a pitcher to hit, but I really take it seriously. Whether it's the bunts or being able to swing the bat. In that situation, I've got to be able to at least put the ball in play and give ourselves a chance." -- Fister, on his two-run single in the seventh
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: They close out a nine-game road trip by sending Collin McHugh to the mound for Wednesday's 6:15 p.m. CT finale at Busch Stadium. He didn't pitch out of the fifth inning Thursday, but he is 4-1 with a 4.08 ERA in six starts against National League opponents the past two years.
Cardinals:Adam Wainwright, who has won seven straight starts against Houston, will close out the two-game series on Wednesday. Wainwright has more career wins (13) against the Astros than any other opponent. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. CT.