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George Springer's big night lifts Houston Astros over St. Louis Cardinals

By
Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
Houston Astros' George Springer swings hitting a two run home run in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on June 15, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Houston Astros' George Springer swings hitting a two run home run in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on June 15, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- So what felt better, George Springer, throwing a runner out at the plate or cracking the go-ahead homer in the top of the eighth inning?

"The win," he said.

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The Houston Astros' right fielder basically did it all Wednesday night, dazzling on offense and defense to help his team score a two-game interleague sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 4-1 decision at Busch Stadium.

Springer wiped out St. Louis' 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning, ripping a Kevin Siegrist curveball 399 feet over the right-center field wall with Evan Gattis aboard after a two-out pinch-walk for his 15th homer of the year.

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Earlier, Springer erased Stephen Piscotty at home with a spin and throw off Jhonny Peralta's bloop single down the right field line for the second out of the fifth.

Springer nearly had two other assists, almost doubling Matt Carpenter off first after Brandon Moss' flyout in the sixth and coming within a whisker of cutting down Yadier Molina at the plate on Greg Garcia's pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh that snapped a scoreless tie.

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"He had a great night on both sides of the ball," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said of Springer. "The pirouetting throw was about as impressive as you can get at this level. Every time he goes through a little lull, you think about giving him a day off. But there's a reason you don't do it."

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With Springer taking the lead and starter Collin McHugh assuming a strong supporting role, the Astros (32-35) headed home from a 10-day road trip with a 4-5 record and some momentum, thanks to their sweep of a foe that opened the series with five straight wins.

McHugh authored a solid bounce back outing from a 3 2/3-inning stinker in Texas last Thursday in which he ate the loss, matching Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright pitch-for-pitch on a 95-degree evening where the ball was carrying well to right field.

McHugh retired 11 straight hitters at one point and tightroped his way through a fifth inning where St. Louis doubled twice, singled and walked, yet failed to score.

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Piscotty doubled and was cut down by about 20 feet on Springer's bullet throw home. Molina doubled, a blow that would have scored Piscotty had he held at third, to move Peralta to third. Aledmys Diaz was intentionally walked to fill the bases, but Wainwright bounced into a fielder's choice for the third out.

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McHugh departed after Garcia's hit, having worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and a run with two walks and six strikeouts.

"We had a good game plan coming in and I commanded my pitches real well," McHugh said. "I thought we were very efficient the first few innings."

So was Wainwright, who blanked Houston over seven innings, yielding only four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. He left in line for the win, which would have made him 14-1 in his career against the Cardinals' former NL Central rivals.

But Springer burned Siegrist (4-2) in the eighth and Carlos Gomez, who was picked off first a pitch before Gattis walked to set up Springer's go-ahead blast, gained redemption with a two-run single off Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth.

"We just couldn't put enough pressure on them," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.

Tony Sipp (1-2) picked up the final out of the seventh to earn the win. Ken Giles fired a scoreless eighth and Will Harris pitched around Molina's third hit in the ninth for his fifth save.

The Cardinals (35-30), who were 26-0 when leading after seven innings before Wednesday night, dropped to 15-18 at home.

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NOTES: St. Louis C Brayan Pena (left knee) resumed his rehab assignment Wednesday night with Triple-A Memphis, going 1-for-4 at Nashville. Pena halted it yesterday to attend to a personal matter. ... Houston inked six of its picks from last week's First Year Player Draft, including third round selection Jake Rogers, a catcher. ... St. Louis signed its second first round pick, OF Dylan Carlson, along with 19 other players to minor league deals. Carlson, who took batting practice with the Cardinals prior to the game, will start his pro career with the Single-A GCL Cardinals.

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