Houston broke a season-high eight-game losing streak with a 5-3 win over Cincinnati on Sunday. But during that losing streak, the Astros were outscored, 67-37, and Houston starters posted a 9.30 ERA.
The Astros recalled righty Jordan Lyles from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sunday to start against the Reds, and optioned infielder Matt Downs to Oklahoma City. Astros manager Brad Mills said Lyles will remain with the team, and the club will continue with a five-man rotation to give each starter an extra day off.
Right-hander Lucas Harrell will be the first Houston starter to utilize the added rest, as he will take the hill against the Cardinals on Tuesday.
"I'm very happy everyone is going to get that extra day," Mills said. "When we've gone through what we did the last time through the rotation and the number of pitches and the amount of runs we allowed, you start searching for answers and reasons, and that came up as one of the things you're considering."
Harrell will make his second career start and third appearance against the Cardinals. He earned the win against St. Louis on May 4 this season, allowing three earned runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
However, Harrell was not as sharp in his most recent start. The 27-year old allowed nine runs on 10 hits through five innings against Colorado on Wednesday.
The Cardinals haven't been very hot of late, either. The defending World Series champions are 3-7 in their last 10 games and are hoping that a healthy Jaime Garcia will help them build off Monday's series-closing victory against the Mets.
Garcia gets the call after skipping his scheduled start in New York this past weekend due to left elbow discomfort. An MRI showed no reason for long-term concern and manager Mike Matheny said he plans to handle the left-hander as if he was healthy on Tuesday night.
"We'll be listening to him. If we see anything that looks out of the ordinary, we'll be checking with him in between innings," Matheny said. "When he tells us he's good and the doctors give him the green light, we go in like we're full go."
Astros: Lee placed on 15-day DL
The Astros placed first baseman Carlos Lee on the 15-day disabled list Sunday due to a strained left hamstring that Lee sustained while running to first base on Friday. It's just the second time in his career that Lee has been on the DL, after a broken pinkie in August 2008 forced him to miss the remainder of that season.
To fill Lee's spot on the roster, Houston recalled Brett Wallace from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Wallace was hitting .265 with 10 homers in 50 games in the Minors.
Jose Altuve's 23 multihit games are second most in the National League. He is also tied for second in the NL with 67 hits.
Cardinals: Starting pitching stumbles
Not only did Monday's victory end the Cardinals' five-game skid and finally see them produce some offense again, but it also marked the rotation's first quality start in exactly one week.
Following a quality outing and a victory by Lance Lynn on May 28, Cardinals starters pitched six-plus innings just once over the next five games -- and that was when Adam Wainwright was tagged for seven runs over 6 1/3 innings opposite Johan Santana's no-hitter last Friday.
Kyle Lohse helped end that trend, as well as the losing streak, by allowing just one run on two hits over six innings while taking a no-decision in Monday's 5-4 triumph.
Harrell ranks second in the Major Leagues and first in the NL in innings pitched by a rookie, with 63.
The Cardinals are just 28-32 in Houston since 2005, despite posting a 32-19 record at home against the Astros during that same time period.
Allen Craig is a career .353 hitter with three home runs and nine RBIs in six games at Minute Maid Park. The home run and RBI totals are both personal highs for any road stadium.