Un(Happ)y Cardinals fall behind more
Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 1:57 pm
By: By KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — J.A. Happ was determined to pitch better on Monday night than he did in his last outing against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Houston lefty certainly accomplished his goal.
Happ threw a two-hitter and rookie Brett Wallace had a career-high three hits and drove in a run to help the Astros beat the struggling Cardinals 3-0.
It was a complete turnaround from his last meeting with the Cardinals, when he allowed a career-high seven earned runs in just one-plus innings.
“I wasn’t dwelling on it, but certainly that was as bad of a start as I’ve had maybe in my life and it was tough to take at the time,” he said. “I saw looking ahead after that game that I was going to get another chance and you always want to prove to that team that that wasn’t you out there. They got me pretty good last time. But this was a different story.”
It was another tough loss for the Cardinals, who have dropped six of seven and fallen six games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central race.
“It’s not like there’s just no hope,” St. Louis shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “Even for me, I’m struggling as bad as I have ever struggled, but I still think every day I come to the field I am going to get a couple hits and help the team win. I don’t know. It’s just very frustrating.”
Happ earned his fourth complete game and third shutout of his career.
The Astros acquired the 27-year-old in the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to the Phillies last month.
His last complete game was Aug. 27, 2009 against the Pirates, and his last shutout was Aug. 5 of the same year against the Rockies.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa raved about Happ.
“He had everything working tonight,” La Russa said. “We saw him pitch against Philadelphia, and he’s a talented guy. Everything he threw, nothing over the middle, changed speeds, different breaks. It was an outstanding exhibition of pitching.”
Happ (5-2), who hadn’t gone longer than 61⁄3 innings this season, struck out four and walked one.
The Astros took an early lead when Carlos Lee’s bloop single drove in Hunter Pence and made it 1-0 in the first inning.
Notes: The Cardinals activated RHP Jason Motte from the 15-day disabled list and optioned INF/OF Allen Craig to Triple-A Memphis. … Houston INF Jeff Keppinger (toe) is on a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi, but could return to the team as soon as Wednesday.
… Astros’ reliever Matt Lindstrom, on the disabled list with a back strain, is scheduled to throw one inning and 20-25 pitches for Corpus Christi on Tuesday.