By ROBERT HENSLEE, SportsRadio 610

This time last week, the Astros were coming up big in the clutch in every game it seemed, in the midst of a season-best four game winning streak.  Now it seems they can’t buy a big hit to save their lives.

The Astros are hoping to get their swing back in form tonight to avoid matching a season-worst five game losing skid as they host the division-leading Cardinals. 

The Astros stranded thirteen runners and left the bases loaded twice in the series opener, a 7-4 loss.  During their four game losing streak, the team has a .125 batting average with runners in scoring position.

To make matters worse, the Astros will be facing the Cardinals best pitcher this season, 24-year-old lefthander Jaime Garcia (6-1, 3.05 ERA).  Garcia struggled a bit in his last start against the Astros, giving up four runs in 5-plus innings of a 6-5 loss, but he didn’t factor in the decision.

The Astros will turn to Bud Norris (3-4, 3.95 ERA) to help stop their skid.  Norris is 5-2 in eight career starts againstSt. Louis, but the Cardinals roughed him up the last time they saw him, scoring five runs in five innings of a 5-1 Astros loss on May 18. 

Hunter Pence singled twice in Tuesday’s series opener to extend his career-best hitting streak to 18 games.  Pence has a .389 batting average during the streak.

Lance Berkman continued pummeling his former teammates in the opener, slugging his 13th homerun of the season.  Berkman now has 9 hits in 18 at bats against the Astros, including three homers.


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