HOUSTON (AP) - J.A. Happ's problems against the St. Louis Cardinals continued Thursday night.
The Houston Astros' left-hander struck out four of the first five batters he faced, but things went downhill after that.
David Freese hit a grand slam and a two-run homer and rookie Lance Lynn struck out a career-high 11 in earning his ninth win as the Cardinals cruised past the Astros 14-2.
Carlos Beltran connected on his National League-leading 16th homer in the fifth inning and Shane Robinson added a two-run shot in the seventh to help the Cardinals take the series.
Happ (4-6) allowed five hits and four runs with five walks in 4 2-3 innings. He has lost six straight tot St. Louis and fell to 2-8 in his career against the Cardinals, his most losses against any team.
``I felt good, real good coming out, and then that third (inning), I just made it harder than it needed to be,' Happ said. ``They did a good job of fouling off pitches and battling and I let a couple people go. That was the story. I gave them three runs, and they didn't hit the ball hard. It's frustrating.'
Tyler Greene got the Cardinals' first hit with a single to start the third inning. Happ then battled Robinson to a 12-pitch at-bat before walking him. Greene and Robinson both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Lynn before Greene scored on a bunt by Furcal to cut the lead to 2-1.
A sacrifice fly by Beltran tied it at 2-2, before Holliday walked. Allen Craig's broken-bat RBI single to shallow right put St. Louis up 3-2. Happ finally got out of the inning when he struck out Freese on his 40th pitch of the frame.
Houston manager Brad Mills said Craig's seven-pitch at-bat and Robinson's at-bat in the third hurt Happ the most.
``I think that probably took a lot of him there,' Mills said. ``That extended him, and it was tough for him.'
Beltran's first-pitch homer to left center came with one out in the fifth to push the lead to 4-2.
Robinson singled in the sixth and scored on a single by Furcal with one out.
Freese's slam in the seventh inning was the third homer of the game for St. Louis. He added a two-run shot in the ninth as the Cardinals scored a season-high.
Jed Lowrie gave Houston a 1-0 lead with a homer to the first row of the Crawford Boxes in the first inning.
Brett Wallace doubled in the second on a ball that sailed over a leaping Craig and into the far corner of right field. Chris Johnson followed with an RBI double down the right field line to make it 2-0.
Chris Snyder hit a one-out single and Jordan Schafer drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Lynn limited the damage by striking out Jose Altuve to end the inning.
Lynn's nine victories are tied with R.A. Dickey of the Mets for most in the NL.
Lynn (9-2) allowed six hits and two runs to continue his mastery of the NL Central. He is 7-0 with 60 strikeouts in 15 career appearances in the division.
``We got a couple runs early,' Lowrie said. ``We got a couple sharp base hits. It seems that he kept the ball down really well. Everything, fastballs, breaking balls. He didn't make any mistakes after the second inning.'
The Cardinals were up 5-2 before piling on seven runs in the seventh. St. Louis batted around in that inning with 11 Cardinals coming to the plate.
Furcal singled with two outs in the seventh before consecutive walks to Beltran and Matt Holliday. Craig hit an RBI single before Freese's shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field cleared the bases.
Mills made some strange changes in the ninth inning when he put outfielder Brian Bogusevic in to pitch and moved Johnson, the third baseman, to right field. Bogusevic was drafted as a pitcher, but had never pitched in a major league game and it was Johnson's first career appearance in the outfield.
Bogusevic allowed three hits and the home run to Freese in one inning.
``It's something that is probably the last thing that a manager likes to have to go through, but to put that together to get through it, that's what we had to do,' Mills said.
Notes: Houston placed INF Marwin Gonzalez on the 15-day DL after the game with a bruised right heel. They will make a corresponding move on Friday. ... Carlos Correa, taken by Houston with the top pick in this week's amateur draft, agreed to a contract with the Astros for a signing bonus of $4.8 million on Thursday. He received a standing ovation when he was introduced on the field in the middle of the fourth inning. ... St. Louis LHP Jaime Garcia was placed on the 15-day DL with a left shoulder strain on Thursday. RHP Fernando Salas was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take his roster spot. ... The Cardinals open a three-game series with the Indians on Friday and Houston travels to face the Chicago White Sox.
The Associated Press News Service
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