Altuve, Astros down Cardinals

Jose Altuve blasted a three-run homer in the second inning and the Houston Astros held on to best the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-4, in the opener of a three-game weekend set Friday.

Altuve had two hits and scored twice as the Astros won a season-high fourth game in a row.

"When we scored five runs early in the game, we kept battling. We tried to score a little more and didn't, but that was enough to win the game...The pitcher's kept the game like that," Altuve said.

Lucas Harrell (2-2) picked up the win in his first ever start against the Cardinals, tossing 5 1/3 innings while scattering seven hits and allowing four runs -- three earned -- with three strikeouts.

Brett Myers converted his seventh save in as many opportunities, erasing a Rafael Furcal single on a double play and striking out Matt Holliday to face the minimum in the ninth.

Kyle Lohse (4-1) was charged with his first loss of the year, after being touched for five runs -- three earned -- on seven hits over five frames. Holliday had two hits, including a triple, scored a run and batted in another as the Cardinals dropped their second straight.

"I didn't think I had too bad of control, I was up in the zone. I felt like I was right around the zone all night," Lohse said.

St. Louis struck first, in the top of the opening frame. Furcal -- who had led off with a line-drive single and moved to third on consecutive groundouts -- came around to score when Allen Craig reached on third baseman Chris Johnson's errant throw.

Houston rallied for two in the home first. Jordan Schafer reached on an error and Altuve singled, and with one out, then succeeded in double stealing. Back- to-back base hits by Carlos Lee and Jed Lowrie brought home Schafer and Altuve, respectively.

The Cardinals tied it in the second when Matt Carpenter trotted home on a Harrell balk after walking, getting to second on a hit and third on a sacrifice bunt, but Altuve responded in the bottom of the inning.

With Schafer and Harrell aboard, he turned on Lohse's 0-1 fastball, launching it deep into the left-field seats.

Jon Jay opened a two-run third for the Cards with a single. Holliday plated him with a triple in the right-center field gap, and Craig lifted a sacrifice fly to pull his team within one run.

Both starters then settled down and their respective bullpens were spotless. St. Louis' Fernando Salas, Victor Marte and Marc Rzepczynski allowed just one hit over three scoreless innings, while Wesley Wright, Wilton Lopez, Fernando Rodriguez and Myers combined for 3 2/3 frames without a run.

Game Notes

With his eighth-inning walk, Schafer tied a club record for consecutive games reaching base to start a season at 25...The last Astro to reach safely in the first 25 games of a season was Denis Menke in 1969...Altuve has a National League-best 19 multi-hit games...Houston's last four-game winning streak was between August 28-31, 2011...This was Harrell's first-ever start against the Cardinals...The probables for Saturday's second test are Jamie Garcia (2-1) against Bud Norris (1-1).