|St. Louis (16-11)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||2||6||0|
|Houston (13-14) «||4||0||0||2||0||0||0||2||x||8||6||1|
And atone he did.
Johnson hit his first grand slam in the first inning, and the Astros beat the Cardinals 8-2 behind a solid start by right-hander Bud Norris to win a fifth consecutive game for the first time since late 2010.
"Bud's a guy that every time he pitches, we're excited because we know if we scratch a couple of runs across, Bud's going to be competing out there for us," Johnson said. "I let him down in the first inning and he gave me a little pep talk after that on the bench, saying `let's go; forget about it,' so I picked us up and he took care of the rest."
The victory earned the Astros their second consecutive home series win with a game to spare. The last time the Astros won five straight was Aug. 22-26, 2010.
Norris (2-1) continued his dominance of the Cardinals, allowing just one unearned run on three hits over six innings to improve to 7-2 with a 2.16 ERA in 11 career starts against them.
"We had a good gameplan, and I stuck to it, Norris said. "Made some good pitches, made some bad pitches.
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"We know that's a good hitting team. I stuck to the gameplan and everything worked out pretty well."
It was nothing the Cardinals hadn't seen before.
"Same thing he has always done," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Norris. "We can't really put our finger on it or else we would fix it.
"It's just some guys you have a hard time with, and we couldn't string anything together."
Left-hander Jaime Garcia (2-2) was charged with six runs on four hits in six innings for the Cardinals, who lost their season-worst third straight. Garcia walked four and struck out two for his second loss in as many starts.
Jed Lowrie hit a two-run home run in the eighth off Cardinals reliever J.C. Romero for the final margin. It was originally ruled an RBI double, but after a review the umpiring crew changed it to a homer after seeing the ball bounce off the railing above the yellow line over the left-field wall. It was Lowrie's fourth home run of the season.
Justin Maxwell went 2 for 3 with two doubles, an RBI, a run scored and a walk in his fourth start for the Astros since being picked up off waivers from the New York Yankees on April 8.
Johnson more than made up for a fielding error in the top of the first by taking Garcia deep on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom half to give the Astros a 4-1 lead. The slam came in Johnson's second start since he went 4 for 4 with two home runs and a career-high six RBI in Wednesday's 8-1 win to sweep the New York Mets.
"The problem was the walks," Garcia said.
Astros manager Brad Mills was equally pleased with the at-bats that preceded the grand slam.
"I think the way we went about is. the patience to load the bases with three walks and then [Johnson] was able to get a ball up in there and hit the grand slam," Mills said.
The Cardinals got on the board first with Carlos Beltran's RBI single to right field that scored Rafael Furcal, who singled to lead off the game and reached third a batter later when Johnson failed to secure a ground ball.
"Bud made a good pitch, had two strikes on
Maxwell, who started at center field in place of Jordan Schafer, put the Astros ahead 5-1 with an RBI double in the fourth and Norris added a run with a sacrifice fly.
After limiting the Cardinals in the first, Norris was dominant the next three innings, at one point retiring eight in a row. He allowed three walks in the sixth, including one to David Freese with two outs to load the bases, before getting catcher Yadier Molina to ground into a forceout to end the inning.
"The last couple games, unfortunately with two outs I've been giving up bad hits -- not necessarily bad pitches, but I need to bear down better," Norris said. "I had that opportunity today with Yadier and got that big ground ball, and it speaks volumes to me and my growth going forward."
"I had to ask to stay out there, and [Mills] had the confidence in me to stay out there, and I appreciate that."
Norris, who walked four and struck out four, got his first win since April 19 at Washington.
|The Astros' Chris Johnson rounds the bases after hitting his first career grand slam in the first inning against the Cardinals. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
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|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||3||1||1||0||1||0||1||.333|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.405|
|Matt Holliday, LF||3||0||1||1||1||2||2||.257|
|Carlos Beltran, RF||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.272|
|David Freese, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||0||3||.315|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||6||.298|
|Daniel Descalso, 2B||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||.214|
|a- Tyler Greene, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|Matt Carpenter, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.267|
|Jaime Garcia, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.286|
|b- Shane Robinson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.342|
|J.C. Romero, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mitchell Boggs, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Tony Cruz, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.063|
|a-flied out for Descalso in the 9th|
|b-struck out for Garcia in the 7th|
|c-grounded out for Boggs in the 9th|
|RBI - Matt Holliday (19), Carlos Beltran (19)|
|SB - Rafael Furcal (5, 3rd base off Norris/Castro), Matt Holliday (2, 2nd base off Norris/Castro)|
|CS - Daniel Descalso (1, 2nd base by Norris/Castro)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jaime Garcia (L,2-2)||6||4||6||6||4||2||1||3.76|
|WP - Jaime Garcia (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jaime Garcia 95-57, J.C. Romero 17-13, Mitchell Boggs 9-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jaime Garcia 11-5, J.C. Romero 1-2, Mitchell Boggs 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Jaime Garcia 26, J.C. Romero 6, Mitchell Boggs 2|
|Jose Altuve, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.346|
|Brian Bogusevic, RF||3||1||0||0||1||1||0||.222|
|J.D. Martinez, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.247|
|Carlos Lee, 1B||3||2||1||0||1||0||0||.280|
|Jed Lowrie, SS||3||2||1||2||1||0||0||.338|
|Chris Johnson, 3B||4||2||2||4||0||2||0||.306|
|Justin Maxwell, CF||3||1||2||1||1||0||0||.300|
|Jason Castro, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||3||.237|
|Bud Norris, P||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||.182|
|Wesley Wright, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Wilton Lopez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Marwin Gonzalez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.220|
|David Carpenter, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Fernando Abad, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for Lopez in the 7th|
|2B - Carlos Lee (4, Romero), Justin Maxwell 2 (2, Garcia, Garcia)|
|HR - Jed Lowrie (4, Romero), Chris Johnson (3, Garcia)|
|SF - Bud Norris (1)|
|RBI - Jed Lowrie 2 (12), Chris Johnson 4 (18), Justin Maxwell (4), Bud Norris (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chris Johnson 4 (9)|
|SB - Brian Bogusevic (4, 2nd base off Garcia/Molina)|
|Team LOB - 2|
|DP - Altuve-Lowrie-Lee, Castro-Altuve|
|PB - Jason Castro (2)|
|E - Chris Johnson (4, Misplayed grounder)|
|Bud Norris (W,2-1)||6||3||1||0||4||4||0||4.58|
|Pitches-Strikes - Bud Norris 91-58, Wesley Wright 3-2, Wilton Lopez 10-7, David Carpenter 16-11, Fernando Abad 11-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bud Norris 6-7, Wesley Wright 1-0, Wilton Lopez 1-0, David Carpenter 1-1, Fernando Abad 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Bud Norris 24, Wesley Wright 2, Wilton Lopez 2, David Carpenter 5, Fernando Abad 3|
|Attendance - 23633|
|Game Time - 2:40|
|Temperature - 87|
|Umpires - Home - Scott Barry, First Base - Jerry Meals, Second Base - Lance Barrett, Third Base - Paul Emmel|