After Abad injury, Astros can't solve Cardinals

After Abad injury, Astros can't solve Cardinals

After Abad injury, Astros can't solve Cardinals
HOUSTON -- Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco just can't figure out a way to beat the Cardinals.

After a 6-1 loss on Monday at Minute Maid Park, DeFrancesco and the Astros are 0-7 against the Cardinals since DeFrancesco took the job on Aug. 19. The Astros have been outscored, 44-13, in those seven losses.

For the second time in four days, the Astros' starting pitcher left after 1 2/3 innings with an injury.

This time, starter Fernando Abad had to exit with a right oblique strain. Fernando Rodriguez again came on to pitch in relief of an injured starter that couldn't make it through the second inning.

"It was kind of funny," Rodriguez said. "When I was coming up to the mound, I was telling Tony, 'This can't be possible. Really?' It's just one of those things where you go with it, I guess."

On Friday against the Pirates, Rodriguez delivered 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Edgar Gonzalez. On Monday, Rodriguez went a career-high 4 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs.

Daniel Descalso, the first batter Rodriguez faced, tripled to score Matt Carpenter, who drew a walk against Abad. Pete Kozma followed with a two-run homer to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.

Rodriguez said he probably should've taken some more time to warm up after being called from the bullpen in another emergency situation.

"I should've probably taken a [few] more [pitches] because that ball to Kozma ran back right over the middle," Rodriguez said. "There's a way to attack him and I ended up missing my spot by a lot and got hurt."

Yadier Molina's 21st homer of the season in the fourth gave the Cardinals their fourth run. Rodriguez, who left after the sixth inning, said he felt fine physically after throwing 72 pitches, 29 more than his career high. Pitching coach Doug Brocail told Rodriguez during the game that he wanted to let him throw only 60 pitches, but Rodriguez kept assuring Brocail that he felt OK.

"I had to once again just put a smile on face and just say, 'All right, let's go,'" Rodriguez said. "It's just one of those things that has to get done. I was having fun so that's one of the good things."

The Astros weren't having much fun at the plate against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn despite some early success.

Jed Lowrie led off the game with a double. Brett Wallace walked and Fernando Martinez was hit by a pitch with two outs to load the bases. Brandon Laird struck out to end the first.

Scott Moore's RBI single in the second inning gave the Astros a run. He added a single in the fifth to finish 2-for-4. He is batting .480 (12-for-25) in his last 13 games.

The Astros stranded five batters in the first two innings.

"[Lynn] was in hot water the first two with guys all over the bases," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "They worked their way through it and got better as he went."

After the second, the Astros managed just two hits and a walk off Lynn through seven innings even though they hit some balls hard.

In the fourth inning, Jason Castro hit a sharp liner to center field that looked like a sure extra-base hit, but Jon Jay made a terrific juggling catch for the first out of the inning.

"I couldn't believe he was able to come down with it," Castro said. "That was one of the best catches I've ever seen."

DeFrancesco was relatively satisfied with his team's approach against the Cardinals right-hander.

"I thought we hit the ball hard today off Lynn," DeFrancesco said. "We counted them up: 12 hard hits. Seven of them were for outs. Jon Jay in center field makes another top 10 play."

Lynn, who struck out nine, is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his career against the Astros. He also earned the win against the Astros on Sept. 19.

"He's able to make some pitches on the corners and that's when he's really at his best," Castro said. "You've got to battle when he's pitching like that because he's not going to give you too much to hit. The one's that we did, they were outs."

The Astros kept the first four batters in the Cardinals' lineup in check. Jay, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig went a combined 1-for-19 with seven strikeouts. Hitters Nos. 5-8 were 8-for-13.

"They have some depth over there," DeFrancesco said. "They have a lot of confidence right now."

DeFrancesco will get two more chances to take down the team that's responsible for a fair share of his losses as a Major League manager. He likes the pitching matchup on Tuesday.

"We have [Lucas] Harrell going against [Jaime] Garcia, and we hope Harrell pitches his 'A' game and gives us a chance," DeFrancesco said.

Clark Goble is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.