The Cardinals really haven't hit left-handed pitching all that well this year (.232), and they hadn't won a game that Kyle Lohse had started on the road.
Both of those deficiencies were corrected Monday night as the Cardinals had one of their best overall games in the last couple of weeks.
Against an unlikely target, Houston ace Wandy Rodriguez, the Cardinals strung together six straight hits in the first and second innings, with Mark DeRosa's two-run double highlighting a three-run first. DeRosa later would hit two long solo homers in his first multi-homer game since July 21. He hadn't hit any homers since Aug. 7.
"I was starting to wonder if I was
ever going to go deep again," said DeRosa, who has six of his 11 homers (23
overall) as a Cardinal against
Lohse, injured often this season, had been baffled not only by his inability to stay healthy but was frustrated about maintaining a consistent delivery. In gaining his first win since Aug. 10 as his team won for the first time in nine road starts, Lohse had good movement on his fastball and threw a good breaking ball and changeup.
He gave up two solo homers but worked six strong innings, giving up just five hits.
"I really felt I ironed out a lot of things I was struggling with," said Lohse. "I figured out some mechanical things and changed my delivery a little."
Lohse said he had no problem with his troublesome right forearm.
"I really didn't have an issue with it, with all the extended rest I've been having," he said.
Before the season ends, Lohse will get two more starts in a bid to retain his spot among the four starters needed for postseason play. The magic number for clinching the division title is three.
CARDINALS 7, ASTROS
3: The Cardinals
clinched the season series with
1B Albert Pujols, only 4-for-28 in his career against Houston LHP Wandy Rodriguez, doubled with two out to kick-start a three-run first inning. CF/2B Skip Schumaker had three singles and 3B Mark DeRosa had two homers and a double.
Notes and Quotes
--3B Troy Glaus was left home at
the start of a nine-game trip as he continued to deal with a strained oblique
muscle. With additional reserves set to join the team in
--1B Albert Pujols' run-scoring double in the fifth Sunday was significant for two reasons. One was that the RBI was the 1,105th of his career, tying him with 1B Jim Bottomley for third on the all-time Cardinals rolls. Bottomley is a Hall of Famer, as are No. 1 Stan Musial (1,951) and No. 2 Enos Slaughter (1,148). The double also was Pujols' 40th of the season, marking the sixth time he has reached that figure in his nine years.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's better to do
it right now than at the end of this month, when we're going into something that
hopefully we're going into." -- RHP Ryan
--1B Albert Pujols, who already
has the club record for assists at his position, had two more Monday night,
giving him 173 for the season, seven shy of the Cubs' Mark Grace for most
assists in a season at that position by a National Leaguer.
--LF Matt Holliday drove in his 50th run as a Cardinal in his 53rd game with the team. The Cardinals are 36-17 in those games.
--2B Skip Schumaker played center field on Monday as manager Tony La Russa rested Colby Rasmus and Rick Ankiel. Those two left-handed hitters were a collective 0-for-16 against Houston LHP Wandy Rodriguez, who was holding left-handers to a .174 average this season. Schumaker, also a left-handed hitter, had a single in two at-bats off Rodriguez.
3B Troy Glaus (pulled left oblique muscle) was injured Sept. 12 and is out indefinitely.
RHP Kyle Lohse (sore right forearm) missed his Sept. 19 start but returned on Sept. 21.