HOUSTON — Bud Norris pitched into the eighth inning for his first win since May 21, and Jose Altuve homered as the Houston Astros avoided a sweep with a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, who are vying for the second NL wild card, on Wednesday night.
Norris (6-13) allowed two hits and struck out seven without a walk in 7 1-3 innings to snap a career-long 12-game losing streak which spanned 18 starts in the last National League game in Houston with the Astros moving to the American League West for 2013.
The victory broke a 10-game winning streak for the Cardinals over Houston and cut their lead over Los Angeles and Milwaukee to 3 1/2 games for the second NL wild card spot after both teams won Wednesday.
Norris hurled the gem despite a tough stretch where he has been slowed by a blister on the index finger of his right hand and flu-like symptoms.
Wilton Lopez got the final five outs to complete the three-hitter and get his eighth save. Norris clapped his hands once and smiled when Houston got the final out.
Chris Carpenter (0-1) allowed four hits and two runs in six innings in his second start since missing 150 games following right shoulder surgery.
Norris had retired 12 of 13 when he hit Adron Chambers to start the eighth inning. Daniel Descalso reached on an error by Brett Wallace, when his grounder rolled between the first baseman's legs.
Norris struck out Pete Kozma before he was lifted for Lopez. Pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran grounded into a forceout that left Descalso out at second and Chambers on third base, before Jon Jay grounded into a forceout to end the threat.
Altuve connected on Carpenter's first pitch of the fourth inning for Houston's first hit, a homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field, to make it 1-0.
Scott Moore followed with a double which bounced off the wall in center field and moved to third on a flyout by Jed Lowrie. Justin Maxwell reached on a fielder's choice that left Moore out at home.
Maxwell stole second base before scoring on Wallace's double to right field which pushed the lead to 2-0.
Norris was perfect through the first three innings. Jay doubled to start the fourth for the Cardinals' first hit. But Norris got right back on track, retiring the next seven batters. Carpenter singled with one out in the sixth before Norris retired the next two Cardinals to end the inning.
Carpenter hit Fernando Martinez to start Houston's third but faced the minimum through three thanks to a double play in that inning.
Carpenter threw 92 pitches after throwing 77 in five innings of a no-decision Friday in his first start since the injury. It was his first start against Houston since throwing a two-hitter on Sept. 28, 2011, to clinch the NL wild card.