Cardinals-Astros preview

HOUSTON -- After having their offense smothered during a two-game interleague series against the Astros at Busch Stadium in mid-June, the Cardinals unleashed their balanced attack against the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

For a third consecutive game, all victories, the Cardinals (63-56) relied on multiple contributors, with left fielder Tommy Pham and third baseman Jedd Gyorko belting their ninth and 18th home runs, respectively, while center fielder Randal Grichuk recorded a pair of extra-base hits. Gyorko smacked a three-run homer in the sixth inning for yet another crooked number by St. Louis during its modest streak.

Grichuk blasted a grand slam as part of a six-run eighth inning against the Cubs last Saturday. In the series finale at Wrigley Field on Sunday, Stephen Piscotty and Brandon Moss homered while Grichuk doubled as part of a five-run eighth inning.

"You hate to throw it on one guy's shoulders," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I'm happy with the fact that we're spreading the wealth. It just keeps your team in it. In every game you know that if you're down a few you're two bloops and a blast from everything turning around and it seems like any guy can do it.

"All the way through our lineup we've got the ability with the long ball and that's a nice attribute for an offense to have."

Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez (10-7, 3.34 ERA) will make his first career appearance against the Astros and 10th interleague appearance. He is 0-2 with a 1.43 ERA against the National League.

Martinez leads the NL with 25 double plays induced and 1.64 double plays per nine innings. He paces the Cardinals with 10 starts of at least seven innings, going 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA in those outings. He was charged with three runs over six innings while receiving a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on Aug. 11. Martinez is 16-7 with a 2.92 ERA on the road in 27 starts and 63 appearances.

Right-hander Doug Fister (11-7, 3.61 ERA) will start for the Astros (61-58). Fister beat the Cardinals 5-2 on June 14, allowing two runs on five hits and one walk with six strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings, his sixth victory in a seven-game winning streak.

Fister is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four career games (three starts) against the Cardinals. Fister has just one victory in his last four starts.

Fister isn't the only Astros starter idling. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel endured another rough outing on Tuesday, allowing six runs on six hits over five innings. He struggled early, allowed two runs in the first inning, recovered to retire 12 consecutive batters, and then crumbled again before being chased in the sixth.

And while the sixth inning proved critical as St. Louis rallied from a 4-2 deficit en route to an 8-5 win, the early-inning woes have been a sporadic issue for Keuchel.

"I think getting into the game was tough for him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

"I don't know what it's been the last three, four outings, the first inning has started off slow," Keuchel said.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.