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Cardinals rip Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — David Freese hit a grand slam and a two-run homer and rookie Lance Lynn struck out a career-high 11 in earning his ninth win as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised past the Houston Astros 14-2 on Thursday night.

Freese’s slam in the seventh inning was the third homer of the game for St. Louis. He added a two-run shot in the ninth as the Cardinals scored a season-high.

Carlos Beltran connected on his National League-leading 16th homer in the fifth and Shane Robinson added a two-run blast in the seventh to help the Cardinals take the series.

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As a St. Louis fan cheers and a Houston fan jeers, Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals returns to a dugout after hitting a home run in Thursday night’s game in Houston.

Lynn’s nine victories are tied with R.A. Dickey of the Mets for most in the NL.

Lynn (9-2) allowed six hits and two runs to continue his mastery of the NL Central. He is 7-0 with 60 strikeouts in 15 career appearances in the division.

Houston starter J.A. Happ (4-6) allowed five hits and four runs with five walks in 42⁄3 innings.

The Cardinals were up 5-2 before piling on seven runs in the seventh. St. Louis batted around in that inning with 11 Cardinals coming to the plate.

Rafael Furcal singled with two outs in the seventh before consecutive walks to Beltran and Matt Holliday. Allen Craig hit an RBI single before Freese’s shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field cleared the bases.

Jed Lowrie gave Houston a 1-0 lead with a homer to the first row of the Crawford Boxes in the first inning.

Brett Wallace doubled in the second on a ball that sailed over a leaping Craig and into the far corner of right field. Chris Johnson followed with an RBI double down the right field line to make it 2-0.

Chris Snyder hit a one-out single and Jordan Schafer drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Lynn limited the damage by striking out Jose Altuve to end the inning.

The Astros couldn’t get much going offensively after that while the Cardinals heated up.

Tyler Greene got the Cardinals’ first hit with a single to start the third inning. Happ then battled Robinson to a 12-pitch at-bat before walking him. Greene and Robinson both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Lynn before Greene scored on a bunt by Furcal to cut the lead to 2-1.

A sacrifice fly by Beltran tied it at 2-2, before Holliday walked. Craig’s broken-bat RBI single to shallow right put St. Louis up 3-2. Happ finally got out of the inning when he struck out Freese on his 40th pitch of the frame.

Beltran’s first-pitch homer to left center came with one out in the fifth to push the lead to 4-2.

Robinson singled in the sixth and scored on a single by Furcal with one out.

Houston manager Brad Mills made some strange changes in the ninth inning when he put outfielder Brian Bogusevic in to pitch and moved Johnson, the third baseman, to right field. Bogusevic was drafted as a pitcher, but had never pitched in a major league game and it was Johnson’s first career appearance in the outfield.

Bogusevic allowed three hits and the home run to Freese in one inning.

III

Prior to the game, the Cardinals placed left-hander Jaime Garcia on the 15-day disabled list with a left-shoulder strain.

Garcia skipped a turn in the rotation before lasting just two innings in his last start on Tuesday against Houston. His stint on disabled list is retroactive to Wednesday.

The 25-year-old has posted a 4.48 ERA and 3-4 record in 11 starts this season.

St. Louis recalled right-hander Fernando Salas from Triple-A Memphis to take his roster spot. Salas led the Cardinals with 24 saves last season, but started this season 0-3 with a 6.32 ERA in 18 games.

Garcia joins a long list of Cardinals on the disabled list that includes right-handed pitchers Chris Carpenter, Scott Linebrink and Kyle McClellan, outfielder Skip Schumaker and first baseman Lance Berkman.

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