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Harrell falters in Astros' 7-0 loss to Cardinals

A large contingent of family and friends waited outside the visitor's clubhouse for Lucas Harrell. After getting knocked around, the Houston Astros rookie pitcher wasn't all that anxious to see everyone.

Harrell allowed hits to six of the first seven batters in a four-run first inning that was plenty of cushion for Adam Wainwright, who threw a five-hitter and matched his career high with 12 strikeouts in the St. Louis Cardinals' 7-0 victory on Tuesday night.

"I feel like I let a lot of people down," Harrell said after giving up six runs in five innings. "That's definitely not my best and I can't wait to come back here and have a better outing.

"Frustrating, disappointing — all those things come into play," he said.

Harrell (10-9) is from Springfield, Mo., and spent two days before his start visiting family and friends at home. His mother drove him to St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon, arriving about 4 1-2 hours before the first pitch.

"He looked like he was a little fired up," interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "I know he had a big group out there and you always want to impress the people you love.

"Unfortunately, he was a little too anxious early," DeFrancesco added.

Skip Schumaker and Yadier Molina had two RBIs apiece for the Cardinals, who capitalized on a pair of walks to open a two-run third. Molina had three hits and Jon Jay had three hits and an RBI.

Harrell said second baseman Jose Altuve was shaded toward the bag on the Schumaker at-bat, and couldn't quite stop a grounder into right that Harrell had thought might have been a double-play ball.

"They got a lot of weak contact," Harrell said. "I felt like they hit two balls hard all game. It was just kind of a tough one."

Wainwright threw his second shutout and third complete game of the season. Two of the complete games have come during a string of six consecutive victories at home with a 1.42 ERA. He pitched a five-hitter on Aug. 4, a 6-1 victory over the Brewers.

Wainwright is 12-1 with a 1.58 ERA for his career against Houston. The Astros got two-out hits in the ninth from Justin Maxwell and Jason Castro in a bid to spoil the shutout before Wainwright fanned Ben Francisco on his 105th pitch.

The Astros have been outscored 15-1 in two games under DeFrancesco, who held a team meeting prior to the game in an effort to lift the stripped-down franchise out of the doldrums. Houston is just 7-41 since June 28.

"It's kind of like you get beat down and the big guy keeps hitting you," DeFrancesco said before the game. "To bounce back in this game is difficult when you have young players that have limited time in the major leagues.

"The media, the lights, the crowd — that stuff as a coach in the minor leagues you really can't teach that until you get into this place and feel it for the first time," he added.

Tyler Greene, a former Cardinals first-round pick dealt to Houston earlier this year for a player to be named, struck out twice and grounded out in his first game in St. Louis as a visitor.

Harrell (10-9) had allowed two or fewer runs in each of his last seven starts, but balked home the first run and got a visit from pitching coach Doug Brocail after facing just five hitters. The right-hander retired just five of the first 15 batters before settling down, allowing a walk and sacrifice fly the last 10 hitters.

"My last two innings I got back to really making good pitches and keeping the ball down and getting outs," Harrell said. "That's what I can take away from this one."

The day after their 6-3, 19-inning loss to the Pirates — the longest game in the majors this season — manager Mike Matheny led a delegation to help rebuild tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., and other Cardinals played charity golf.

Jay doubled to start the bottom of the first, and with one out St. Louis got five straight singles from Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, David Freese, Molina and Schumaker. Craig and Freese walked to start the third, Molina followed with an RBI single and Rafael Furcal added a sacrifice fly.

The Astros were shut out for the 12th time.

NOTES: Bud Norris (5-10, 5.23) is 7-3 for his career against the Cardinals heading into Wednesday night's start against Kyle Lohse (12-2, 2.61). ... Carlos Beltran, 4 for 23 on the homestand and bothered by a right hand injury, missed his second start in three games but is not expected to be out long. ... The Cardinals are 56-14 when scoring more than three runs. ... Craig had a single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and also walked three times. ... Craig is 10 for 23 (.435) against Houston this season and 21-48 for his career with five homers and 17 RBIs.