Happ tries to pick up a victory in rubber match with Cards

J.A. Happ has been a consistent hurler for the Astros over the past month, but it hasn't resulted in as many wins as he would have liked.

The left-hander tries to avoid a third straight defeat tonight when Houston plays the rubber match of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Happ has gone at least six innings in each of his last four outings while pitching to a 2.13 earned run average and striking out 27 in that span. He won the first two starts over that time, but has dropped consecutive outings to the Dodgers and Reds even though he has been charged with just five earned runs.

The 29-year-old gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over a season- high seven innings on Friday versus the Reds, but didn't get much support in a 4-1 loss.

"I made some good pitches, but then I didn't make a few there," said Happ. "Sometimes there's games where you have no room for error and tonight was one of them."

Happ fell to 4-5 with a 4.31 ERA in 11 starts this season, including a loss to the Cardinals back on May 6 in which he was hammered for six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and four walks over five innings. Happ gave up a two-run homer to Allen Craig in the first inning and another two-run shot to Tyler Greene in the fourth.

He fell to 1-7 with a 6.70 ERA in nine career games versus the Cardinals.

The Cardinals counter with Lance Lynn, who is tied for the major league lead in wins but has split four decisions since his 6-0 start. He needed 105 pitches to get through a season-low 4 2/3 innings on Saturday versus the Mets, picking up a loss to snap a two-start win streak.

Lynn allowed three runs -- two warned -- on five hits and four walks, but the Cardinals offense was shut out by New York's R.A. Dickey in a 5-0 decision.

"Dickey pitched a great game and I wasn't able to match him. That's what it comes down to," said Lynn. "I gotta pitch better than that, and I wasn't able to do that today."

The right-handed Lynn has a 2.63 ERA in 11 starts this season and is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his career versus the Astros.

St. Louis' offense got off to a quick start in last night's 4-3 win, plating three runs in the first and stretching its lead to four on Craig's solo homer in the third. However, Houston pitching retired the final 20 St. Louis hitters in the game and nearly pulled off a comeback with a three-run sixth.

Adam Wainwright got the win thanks to the early support, allowing three runs and striking out eight over 5 2/3 innings. Craig had two hits, including an RBI single, and Daniel Descalso hit a solo homer.

"The guys did a great job, every one of them," remarked Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "I'm extremely proud of how we threw the ball and of how this offense just fights."

St. Louis has now won two of three since a five-game skid, while Houston had a two-game winning streak halted. Bud Norris took the loss after giving up four runs over six innings with a season-high 12 strikeouts.

Jose Altuve, Brett Wallace and Brian Bogusevic all had RBI singles in the sixth inning for Houston.

The Astros have won six of their past 10 versus the Cardinals, including two of three at home in early May.