|St. Louis (68-56) «||0||0||0||3||5||1||0||4||x||13||17||2|
ST. LOUIS -- Nothing was working for Jake Westbrook, a groundball pitcher who gave up three sacrifice flies.
No worries with the St. Louis Cardinals offense ringing up 17 hits against a team that's still waiting for the adrenaline charge that usually comes with changing managers.
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David Freese's three-run homer snapped the team's seven-game long-ball drought and Matt Holliday's three-run double was the go-ahead blow as St. Louis beat the Houston Astros 13-5 Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
"I was in trouble the whole day, really," Westbrook said. "Our offense came through and really picked me up. Picked this team up."
"This team, they get the blood in the water and they can pile them on," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
The Astros are 0-4 while getting outscored 32-8 since interim manager Tony DeFrancesco replaced Brad Mills as leader of the stripped-down roster. Houston has won just seven of its last 50 overall.
"We got 11 hits and some of the guys got some big days, so there is some life," DeFrancesco said. "Unfortunately, once the game gets out of hand it's tough for our guys to continue to bounce back after they've been getting beat on for a while."
Ben Francisco had three hits for the Astros, who were swept for the third time this month and 12th overall.
Westbrook (13-9) won for the fourth time in five starts despite struggles with control two days after getting a new contract for next season with a mutual option for 2014.
Westbrook surrendered five runs on seven hits, two walks and two hit batters in five innings, ending a string of 13 consecutive starts of at least six innings.
Astros rookie lefty Dallas Keuchel (1-6) retired 11 of the first 12 batters, but six of his last seven reached base, one on an error. He earned his first career RBI on a sacrifice fly in the second, but was charged with five earned runs in four-plus innings.
"I felt good today, thought it was going to be another quality start," Keuchel said. "That fifth inning kind of unraveled things."
The Cardinals were 10 for 14 with runners in scoring position against five pitchers to sweep the Astros for the first time since April 2009 and wrap up a 6-3 homestand with a string of contenders awaiting.
St. Louis starts a 10-game trip Friday night with three games at NL Central-leading Cincinnati, followed by three at wild card-contending Pittsburgh and four at NL East-leading Washington.
"A very big road trip, there's no doubt about that," Matheny said. "We need to string them together, that's all there is to it."
Like Westbrook, the 24-year-old Keuchel entered with decent recent numbers with three consecutive quality starts. He's 0-6 in nine starts since beating the Indians with a six-hitter on June 23.
Freese's 16th homer capped a two-out rally in the fourth. The Astros elected to pitch to Freese instead of Daniel Descalso, just 3 for 21 during the homestand to that point and batting .226.
The first five Cardinals reached safely to start the fifth, including an error. Holliday had been just 5 for 36 with two RBI on the homestand, put St. Louis ahead 7-5 with his double.
"I know I've been struggling but I don't really feel that far off," Holliday said. "I try to make it day by day and just try to have good at-bats."
|David Freese is welcomed back to the Cardinals' dugout after cracking a three-run homer in their win vs. the Astros. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Jose Altuve, 2B||4||0||2||2||0||1||0||.304|
|Brian Bogusevic, CF||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.210|
|Brett Wallace, 1B||5||1||2||0||0||1||2||.288|
|Ben Francisco, RF||5||1||3||0||0||1||4||.252|
|Jason Castro, C||5||0||2||0||0||0||3||.257|
|Tyler Greene, SS||4||0||0||0||1||3||4||.230|
|Scott Moore, 3B||3||1||0||1||0||1||0||.227|
|Fernando Martinez, LF||4||2||2||0||1||0||2||.159|
|Dallas Keuchel, P||1||0||0||1||0||0||2||.071|
|Hector Ambriz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mickey Storey, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Steve Pearce, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.262|
|Xavier Cedeno, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Rhiner Cruz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-fouled out for Storey in the 8th|
|2B - Brett Wallace (5, Westbrook), Ben Francisco (9, Westbrook), Fernando Martinez 2 (4, Westbrook, Westbrook)|
|SF - Jose Altuve (4), Scott Moore (3), Dallas Keuchel (1)|
|SH - Dallas Keuchel (4)|
|RBI - Jose Altuve 2 (33), Scott Moore (20), Dallas Keuchel (1)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|Outfield Assists - Ben Francisco 1|
|DP - Moore-Altuve-Wallace|
|E - Brett Wallace (4, Throwing)|
|Dallas Keuchel (L,1-6)||4||5||6||5||1||2||1||5.40|
|Pitches-Strikes - Dallas Keuchel 59-39, Hector Ambriz 18-12, Mickey Storey 38-23, Xavier Cedeno 10-8, Rhiner Cruz 25-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dallas Keuchel 7-4, Mickey Storey 2-2|
|Batters Faced - Dallas Keuchel 19, Hector Ambriz 6, Mickey Storey 8, Xavier Cedeno 4, Rhiner Cruz 6|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||3||2||0||0||0||0||.316|
|Allen Craig, 1B||5||2||3||3||0||0||0||.313|
|Matt Holliday, LF||5||1||2||4||0||0||1||.303|
|Matt Carpenter, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.302|
|Carlos Beltran, RF||4||1||0||0||1||1||3||.276|
|Marc Rzepczynski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Yadier Molina, C||3||1||2||1||1||0||0||.324|
|a- Tony Cruz, PH-C||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.232|
|David Freese, 3B||4||1||3||4||1||0||1||.298|
|Daniel Descalso, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.225|
|Edward Mujica, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Fernando Salas, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Shane Robinson, PH-LF||2||1||1||0||0||1||3||.262|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||4||2||2||1||0||1||0||.269|
|Jake Westbrook, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.133|
|c- Ryan Jackson, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Barret Browning, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Skip Schumaker, 2B||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.300|
|a-singled for Molina in the 8th|
|b-doubled for Salas in the 8th|
|c-singled for Westbrook in the 5th|
|2B - Jon Jay (13, Storey), Allen Craig (27, Storey), Matt Holliday (30, Ambriz), Yadier Molina (25, Keuchel), Shane Robinson (8, Cedeno)|
|HR - David Freese (17, Keuchel)|
|SH - Jon Jay (7)|
|RBI - Allen Craig 3 (65), Matt Holliday 4 (85), Yadier Molina (60), David Freese 4 (70), Rafael Furcal (48)|
|2-OUT RBI - Allen Craig (23), David Freese 4 (33)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|E - David Freese (11, Misplayed grounder), Jake Westbrook (5, Throwing)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jake Westbrook (W,13-9)||5||7||5||5||2||1||0||3.67|
|Barret Browning (H,4)||0.1||1||0||0||1||1||0||5.12|
|Edward Mujica (H,20)||1.2||0||0||0||0||3||0||3.47|
|HBP - Moore (by Jake Westbrook), Bogusevic (by Jake Westbrook)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 81-47, Barret Browning 17-10, Edward Mujica 16-13, Fernando Salas 11-7, Marc Rzepczynski 21-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 11-4, Fernando Salas 1-1, Marc Rzepczynski 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 27, Barret Browning 3, Edward Mujica 5, Fernando Salas 4, Marc Rzepczynski 5|
|Attendance - 30343|
|Game Time - 3:20|
|Temperature - 90|
|Umpires - Home - D.J. Reyburn, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Manny Gonzalez, Third Base - Gerry Davis|