Flashes of promise are not enough against D-backs

Flashes of promise are not enough against D-backs

Flashes of promise are not enough against D-backs
PHOENIX -- There is hope for the Astros.

On Friday morning, the club traded away two key pieces of the present -- Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ -- in an exchange for veterans in Francisco Cordero and Ben Francisco and four Minor League prospects believed to be a big part of the future.

If all goes according to plan, the future holds better days in Houston. But Friday felt a lot like the day before, and the day before that.

The D-backs cruised past the Astros, 13-8, handing Houston its fourth loss in a row and 17th in the past 19 games.

The Astros are 26 games under .500 and 20 games behind the first-place Reds in the National League Central.

There's no disguising the club's recent woes, but Friday seemed different. Maybe it was the trade with the Blue Jays that had the Astros feeling optimistic. Maybe it was the idea of right-handed pitching prospects Asher Wojciechowski and Joe Musgrove, left-hander David Rollins and catcher Carlos Perez joining the organization.

Maybe the Astros were simply tired of losing.

So they took the field in the first inning against the D-backs feeling energized. The Astros led off the game with back-to-back doubles by Jordan Schafer and Marwin Gonzalez off D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill for a 1-0 lead. The next hitter, Matt Downs, singled with a bunt to move Gonzalez to third, and just like that, the Astros were threatening again.

J.D. Martinez followed by hitting into a double play, but Gonzalez scored to extend the lead to 2-0. The end result of Martinez's at-bat was less than ideal, but a run scored, the Astros were ahead and every lead matters when you are on a losing streak.

The Astros didn't score again until notching two runs in the sixth inning, and by that point, the D-backs had already racked up nine runs, all off starter Bud Norris.

Cahill did his part to stymie the Astros despite a less-than-stellar performance that saw him give up four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings. Cahill struck out three. Norris struck out seven. Cahill gave up nine hits and Norris gave up six.

But Norris didn't help himself by walking five batters. In all, Astros pitchers walked six batters and all six scored. And in the end, it was D-backs' Gerardo Parra, Aaron Hill and Justin Upton who proved to be too much for the Astros.

"It wasn't pretty, and I didn't miss many barrels today," Norris said. "It's tough. You go out there and try to keep the game as close as you can and you can't really think about how many runs you are getting. It's a tough place to pitch and a tough place to play."

Upton's two-run homer in the third inning put the D-backs up, 4-2. His bases-loaded walk in the fifth extended the lead to 5-2. D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and even Cahill pitched in with RBIs in the win.

"He's got good stuff, a pretty good fastball, good slider, you have to try to get him on the big part of the plate," Upton said. "I think we waited him out, got some good pitches and we able to barrel them."

The eighth inning, despite the big deficit, brought more promise for the Astros, as Francisco had pinch-hit single and Cordero pitched a perfect frame in their Houston debuts, and rookie catcher Carlos Corporan hit his first big league homer.

"We have a really young group here that never gives up," Corporan said. "We are going to keep fighting until the end. We are going to start putting this together and winning some ballgames. We are going to be fine."

The Astros also finished with 14 hits, which is quite an improvement when you consider they were one-hit by San Diego's Edinson Volquez a day earlier.

"It was the first time we had that many hits and we scored that many runs in quite a while," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "I thought the approach today was real good at the plate. The guys squared up a lot of balls. We had a few doubles and couple of home runs. It was nice to get that."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.