Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Hunter Pence hit a three-run homer as part of a four-run fifth inning, as the Houston Astros completed a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 5-2 win at Minute Maid Park.
Michael Bourn added a single, RBI and run scored for Houston, which has won nine of its last 11. Carlos Lee chipped in with a sacrifice fly.
Nelson Figueroa (4-2) took the win after throwing five innings. The veteran yielded two runs on six hits, walked three and struck out one. Brandon Lyon worked a perfect ninth inning to record his 11th save of the season.
Matt Holliday accounted for the offense with a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who have dropped five straight and went 2-8 on their 10-game road trip. St. Louis fell eight games behind Cincinnati for the top spot in NL Central. The Reds beat Milwaukee later Wednesday.
Jeff Suppan (1-7), fresh off the 15-day disabled list from a groin injury, was making his first start since defeating Pittsburgh on July 31. In this one, the right-hander allowed four runs on three hits walked four and fanned a batter in five frames.
It was a tough series for Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who went hitless in 10 at-bats.
“Every team has that one guy that you don’t want to have hurt you,” Figueroa said. “They have a tremendous guy right behind him in Holliday, but you have to take your chances against Holliday rather than Pujols because he’s so dangerous. It was a great job by the whole staff to have him hitless in the series.”
St. Louis opened the scoring in the first as Skip Schumaker led off the game with a double, but was erased on Aaron Miles’ fielder’s choice. Two batters later Holliday clubbed a two-run shot to left.
The Cards left the sacks full in the third, before Houston responded with four in the fifth to go in front for good. With runners on first and third and one out, Bourn’s deep sac fly to center got the Astros on the board. After Jeff Keppinger walked, Pence’s three-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole made it 4-2.
Lee’s sac fly in the seventh brought in Bourn to give the hosts a three-run cushion.
Four Astros relievers combined to work three scoreless innings and Lyon threw a perfect ninth to polish off the win.
“We have to play better, obviously, but you just have to focus on the next game,” Holliday said. “Sometimes if you get out and look at the big picture instead of focusing on the job at hand, you lose focus.”
Houston has now won 10 of 15 meetings with the Cardinals this season…Suppan fell to 3-9 in 20 career meetings — 17 starts — against Houston…Figueroa improved to 3-1 in 13 career games — five starts — versus St. Louis…Bourn extended his hitting streak to 11 games.