HOUSTON (AP) - St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse entered Friday night's game against the Houston Astros having allowed just six runs combined in his first four starts.
Lohse wasn't able to continue that success, giving up all of Houston's runs in the first two innings.
Jose Altuve put the Astros on top with a three-run homer in the second inning and they held on for a 5-4 win over the Cardinals.
The win is the fourth straight for the Astros and the second consecutive loss for the National League Central-leading Cardinals.
Lohse (4-1), who started the season 4-0 for the first time in his career, had his worst outing of the season. He allowed seven hits and five runs - both season highs - in a season-low five innings. Three of his runs were earned the others came because of two errors by the Cardinals.
``It was a grind,' Lohse said. ``I felt like I was up and missed a couple spots early. They made me work a little bit more than I have had to in recent starts.'
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Lohse had trouble getting the ball down.
``He got balls in the air,' Matheny said. ``This was a day that he just didn't have that down bite. When he is up in the zone, it is going to be a tough day for him. You can tell that by the fly balls. This team is hot right now. They are swinging the bats with confidence whenever they step to the plate, and it shows.'
Lohse wasn't able to replicate the performances he had last season against the Astros when he was 2-0.
Jordan Schafer reached in the first inning on a fielding error by Matt Carpenter. Altuve followed with a single and the pair advanced on a double steal. A single by Carlos Lee scored Schafer before Jed Lowrie's single sent Altuve home to make it 2-1.
Lohse said he got frustrated at one point.
``I didn't think I had too bad of control,' Lohse said. ``I felt like I was up in the zone. I felt like I was around the zone all night. There were a couple calls that could have gone either way ... It was one of those things where you are out there grinding, feel like you are hitting your spots, and you keep running full counts and 2-2 counts.'
The game was tied at 2-2 before Altuve's shot, which a fan in the top row of the Crawford Boxes in left field caught, to give Houston a 5-2 lead.
After Altuve's home run, Lohse gave up two singles and a walk in his final 3 2-3 innings of work.
``The first two innings it was a little tough, but after that, he started throwing the ball down and making his pitches,' shortstop Rafael Furcal said. ``I think he only made one mistake, and that was the home run. When he kept the ball around the middle, they didn't hit it.'
It was another good night for Altuve, who is among the top hitters in the NL with a .360 average this season.
Houston starter Lucas Harrell (2-2) gave up seven hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings. Closer Brett Myers allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth for his seventh save after three other relievers combined to pitch 2 2-3 scoreless innings.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the first after Furcal singled and scored when Allen Craig reached on an error by Chris Johnson with two outs.
The miscues continued in the bottom of the second when Schafer reached on an error by Craig, the first baseman, after a single by Harrell. That set up Altuve's home run.
Carpenter walked with one out in the second inning and later scored on a balk by Harrell to tie it at 2-2.
Jon Jay singled and scored on a triple by Matt Holliday that landed near the bullpen in right center to get St. Louis within 5-3 in the third inning. Harrell was a bit shaken up after landing hard on his chest after diving to try and grab the hit by Jay. He was looked at by trainers and remained in the game.
Holliday scored on a sacrifice fly by Craig to cut the lead to 5-4.
NOTES: St. Louis OF Carlos Beltran wasn't in the lineup Friday because of soreness in his right leg, but pinch-hit in the eighth inning. Matheny expects him to be back in the lineup on Saturday. ... Lance Berkman, on the 15-day disabled list with a pulled left calf, experienced some discomfort when he ran on Friday. Matheny said they'll let him rest on Saturday and possible try it again on Sunday to see if he feels better. ... Houston wore the shooting star jerseys the original Astros team wore in 1965 as they continued the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Rusty Staub, who played for the Astros in 1965, threw out the first pitch.
The Associated Press News Service
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