ST. LOUIS -- The dry spell for Bud Norris is at 18 starts and counting. In search for that elusive sixth win, the Houston Astros pitcher is running out of time this season.
Facing a team he's had good success again didn't even help.Norris allowed five runs and walked five in 5 1/3 innings in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, a day after getting sent back to the team hotel because of flu-like symptoms.Norris (5-13) is 0-12 with a 6.34 ERA and six no-decisions since beating the Cubs on May 21."You guys make a bigger deal about that than I am," Norris told reporters. "It's a long career and I've got to get better.""I'm not thinking about it. Every day is a new day and I've got to get better every day," he said.There's been a lot of hard luck during the slump. The right-hander had eight quality starts in his last 13 outings."In my mind, no matter how I felt, I wanted to go and pitch," Norris said. "It's tough to get the results sometimes."Norris is 7-5 with a 2.97 ERA for his career against St. Louis, but just 1/3 this year.Pinch hitter Carlos Beltran snapped a sixth-inning tie with a two-run double and Allen Craig hit a three-run homer, helping the Cardinals complete a season sweep at home.Beltran's double put St. Louis up 5-3, rewarding Jaime Garcia (5-7) for keeping it close and putting the Cardinals 2 1/2 games up for the second NL wild card with 12 games remaining. They took care of business against the lowly Astros, who absorbed their 102nd loss while leading for just a single inning in the three-game series.They made the Cardinals dig deep in all three losses this series."We know what's on the other side. Here's a guy who uses his closer and setup guy three times in a row. He don't care who's playing," interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "We're mixing and matching. Give our guys credit."The Cardinals were 6-0 at home against Houston, their first season series sweep in St. Louis since 1996.The Cardinals topped 3 million in attendance for the ninth consecutive season and 16th time in franchise history with paid attendance of 34,788.Craig also doubled and has three homers and 15 RBIs in 11 games against the Astros this year. He's a career .412 hitter against the Astros with six homers and 24 RBIs in 20 games.Jason Motte finished for his 38th save in 45 chances and third of the series after the Astros tested the setup men."We batted, we kept getting guys on base," said Justin Maxwell, who had an RBI double and two nice catches in right field. "We were determined to win the game."Their pitching got the job done."Fernando Salas struck out Jose Altuve and pinch hitter Brett Wallace with the bases loaded to end the eighth after Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski combined to issue three walks in four at-bats, and Edward Mujica surrendered an RBI single to Brandon Barnes in the seventh.Norris, who entered the game 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA in St. Louis, walked Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma with one out in the sixth and was lifted after throwing 111 pitches. Both scored easily on Beltran's drive off Wesley Wright to the base of the wall in left-center.
Maxwell made an excellent sliding catch on Kozma's foul popup near the stands down the RF line, upending 1B Brandon Laird in the process. Laird stayed in the game after a visit from the trainer and DeFrancesco. ... RHP Chris Carpenter makes his season debut in Chicago Friday, opposing the Cubs' Chris Volstad (3-10, 6.26). RHP Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 4.40) opposes LHP Jeff Locke (0-1, 5.49) as the Astros begin a three-game series in Pittsburgh. ... Maxwell is 5 for 8 against Garcia with a homer and four RBIs.
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ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 20: Bud Norris #20 of the Houston Astros pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at...