Astros-Cardinals preview

ST. LOUIS -- Colby Rasmus enjoyed a successful homecoming on Tuesday night in the Houston Astros' 5-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now he tries for an encore Wednesday night when Houston attempts to sweep the teams' two-game interleague series.

Rasmus homered off former teammate Jaime Garcia to snap a 1-1 tie in the fifth, then started a two-run rally in the seventh with a one-out single, later scoring on a stunning two-run single by pitcher Doug Fister.

Rasmus, who belted 50 homers in just over 2 1/2 seasons with St. Louis before being dealt at the 2011 trade deadline to Toronto, admitted to looking forward to his Busch Stadium return.

"With all the excitement coming in, I felt thankful that I was able to help our team and give us a good little boost," Rasmus said.

"He's a good friend and had a good game," Garcia said of Rasmus.

Perhaps Rasmus can help the Astros solve the mystery known as Adam Wainwright, who has dominated them like few pitchers have. Only Houston's move to the American League before the 2013 season has kept Wainwright from picking on it to the extent he did from 2006 to 2012.

Wainwright (5-4, 5.21 ERA) enters Wednesday night's start with a 13-1 record and 1.57 ERA against the Astros, the lowest ERA of any MLB pitcher with at least 10 starts against them. He has won his last seven starts against Houston dating to Aug. 2, 2009.

What's more, Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina are in line to make Cardinals history. Should Molina get the nod, as is expected, he and Wainwright will team for their 198th start together, one more than the previous record held by Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver.

The Astros will counter with right-hander Collin McHugh (5-5, 5.22), who after a 19-7 season in 2015 has yet to find the consistency that marked his last two years. McHugh is coming off his second shortest start of the year, going only 3 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on Thursday in a 5-3 loss at Texas.

McHugh has faced St. Louis only twice in his career, going 0-1 without reaching the sixth inning in either outing.

The series opener notwithstanding, the Cardinals have been one of the sport's best offensive teams this year, averaging 5.5 runs per game, batting .267 and belting 87 homers -- a pace tht would net them more than 200 by season's end.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch liked many things about Tuesday night's win, particularly that his team was able to make more consistent contact. After fanning a whopping 634 times in the first 65 games, the Astros whiffed only five times against four St. Louis pitchers.

"We put the ball in play tonight at a better rate," Hinch said.

Rasmus was guilty of two strikeouts, giving him 70 in 216 at-bats, but did enough damage to remind Cardinals fans what they once had.

"I just wanted to come out here and enjoy the moment," he said. "The homer felt good. It was a feeling I felt before here, but now I'm on the other side."

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