By Jenifer Langosch and Brian McTaggart
ST. LOUIS -- Right fielder George Springer, who had earlier thrown out a runner at home, lifted the Astros to a come-from-behind victory with an eighth-inning homer that stunned a packed Busch Stadium on Wednesday night. With the 4-1 victory, Houston won both games in its two-game visit to St. Louis.
"That's a good team over there, and we were able to scratch across four in the last two frames and went ahead and won," Springer said. "I'm happy about the win."
The win was only the Astros' second of the season when trailing after seven innings (2-29).
"We had them right where we needed them," said Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who threw seven scoreless innings. "We probably had a chance to win both of those games. A tough team will sometimes find a way to beat you. We pitched well. We just didn't have the timely hits like they did."
The Cardinals had broken through to score in the seventh on a two-out pinch-hit single by Greg Garcia. The hit had Wainwright, who lowered his ERA to 4.78 with seven scoreless innings, in line for the win and improved the Cardinals' pinch-hitting average to .382.
It was a lead, however, that reliever Kevin Siegrist couldn't keep. After picking off Carlos Gomez for the second out of the eighth, Siegrist walked Evan Gattis and then delivered an 0-1 curveball that Springer drove 399 feet to just clear the wall in right-center. Springer's 15th homer of the season was the third Siegrist has served up to a right-handed batter this year.
"I was just trying to get it over for a strike and make a good pitch," said Siegrist, who hadn't allowed a hit on a curveball all season. "I just left it up."
A two-run single by Gomez in the ninth padded the lead.
"Obviously, we've had a couple of series in there that we've had some close losses, but we can hang with anybody and we have a good team," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We've got to keep battling. There's areas to get better, but against this type of team, and we come into their place and get a couple of close wins, that's a good boost for us."
The blast took Astros starter Collin McHugh off the hook for what would have been a tough-luck loss. McHugh pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings before being chased by Garcia's fourth pinch hit of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED What a win, by George: Springer, whose two-out, two-run homer in the eighth gave the Astros the lead, made a great throw in the fifth inning to get Stephen Piscotty at the plate. Springer fielded a bloop single by Jhonny Peralta on a hop as he crossed the foul line, then whirled and threw a strike to catcher Jason Castro, who tagged out Piscotty trying to score from second to keep the game scoreless.
"He had a great night on both sides of the ball," Hinch said. "I think he actually hit the ball off of Wainwright harder than he did even his home run. He made some exceptional plays on defense. Obviously, the pirouetting throw was as impressive as you get at this level, and he almost got another one. Every time George goes through a little lull, there's an inkling to give him a day off, and these are reasons why you don't do it." More >
Turning two: Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams started a pair of key double plays behind Wainwright, who induced three double plays in all. With runners on first and second and no outs in the fifth, Adams fielded a grounder by Castro and completed a 3-6-3 twin killing. Wainwright went on to strand the remaining runner at third. Two innings later, Adams initiated a double play to help erase Carlos Correa, who had opened the seventh with a single.
"Just reacting," Adams said. "Knowing what the situation was before the ball is hit. ... We needed some double plays." More >
McHugh can't finish seventh: McHugh rolled through six scoreless innings and recorded two quick outs in the seventh before running into trouble at the bottom of the order, beginning with a Yadier Molina single. After the Astros walked Aledmys Diaz, pinch-hitter Garcia singled to right to narrowly score Molina ahead of a strong throw from Springer in right field to give the Cards the lead.
"I commanded my pitches really well," McHugh said. "We had a good game plan going into it. [We] kind of did our homework and figured out what our strengths were against them. I executed pretty well and was pretty efficient through the first few innings. I ran into a little trouble in the fifth, and George made a great play at home, George hit a homer at the end, and George always does things. So it's a typical George day."
Boost from the bench: Garcia's RBI hit continued the incredible run of success Cardinals pinch-hitters have had this season. Garcia improved to 4-for-6 with three RBIs off the bench, and the team boasts an overall pinch-hitting average of .382. In comparison, the other 14 National League clubs entered the day with a combined pinch-hitting average of .209. The Cardinals have collected 30 RBIs from pinch-hitters.
"[You] just try to do as best you can when your name is called," said Garcia. "Tonight's tough. ... The individual stuff is great, but at the end of the day, we just want to win."
"Today was an opportunity to come in with another off-day tomorrow to continue to move in a good direction. We've seen a lot of good things, and this is just one of them that we're going to have to move past." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on Trevor Rosenthal, who after allowing two runs on Wednesday has now given up nine in 12 non-save opportunities
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Wednesday marked the 198th time that Wainwright and Molina started as batterymates. That sets a franchise mark, surpassing the previous high of 197 games started together by Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: The Astros will be off on Thursday before opening a three-game Interleague Series against the former division-rival Reds at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday at Minute Maid Park. Right-hander Lance McCullers will get the start. He's 6-2 with a 2.00 ERA in 13 career regular-season starts at home.
Cardinals: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Cardinals will welcome the Rangers back to Busch Stadium for the first time since the two teams met in the 2011 World Series. The three-game series begins at 7:15 p.m. CT on Friday, with Michael Wacha -- winless since April 23 -- getting the start.