ST. LOUIS — George Springer has become a master at setting the tone for the Houston Astros.
Springer led off the game with a home run, Jose Altuve and rookie Yordan Alvarez also connected and the Astros beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 Sunday.
Houston has won nine of 11, including two of three in this interleague matchup of division leaders.
Paul Goldschmidt’s team record-tying streak of six straight games with a home run ended for St. Louis. He singled in five at-bats.
Springer hit the second pitch of the game from Dakota Hudson over the wall in left for his seventh leadoff homer of the season and the 31st of his career.
“That’s a good pitcher over there and once he gets established, it’s tough sledding,” Springer said. “I was just looking to hit a ball hard and I was fortunate enough to do that.”
The 2017 World Series MVP is second on the Astros’ all-time leadoff home run list. Hall of Famer Craig Biggio finished his career with 53.
“I’ve always said from the very first pitch of the game, he’s very dangerous,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s our spark. He’s huge for us on so many levels.”
Dexter Fowler had a pinch-hit homer in the ninth for St. Louis, which lost for the third time in 11 games. The Cardinals fell back into a tie with the Cubs atop the NL Central.
Altuve had three hits, including a three-run homer that was his 16th of the season and made it 5-0 in the fifth inning. It was the 1,500th hit of his career — the star second baseman has four homers and eight RBIs over his last eight games.
“The game was on the line when I hit the ball,” Altuve said. “You’re not thinking about 1,500 hits. You’re thinking about winning the game.”
Altuve deflected credit to Springer, who had three hits, for kick-starting the win.
“For me, he’s the best leadoff hitter in the game,” Altuve said. “An elite player, a superstar.”
Hudson (10-5), who gave up eight hits and five earned runs in four-plus innings, was aware of Springer’s leadoff magic, but was unable to shut him down.
“He got a pitch he could handle and then hit it out,” Hudson said. “That showed me pretty much what they were trying to do today.”
Wade Miley (9-4) gave up five hits in five shutout innings. He struck out six and walked two in winning his third game since July 3.
“Our offense is always big, we score runs,” Miley said. “(My stuff) wasn’t very good. From the bullpen on, it was a grind.”
Alvarez hit his 12th homer of the season in the third.
Hudson walked Miley to lead off the fifth. Springer followed with a double to set up Altuve’s homer.
Astros infielder Yuli Gurriel extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a two-hit performance.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa was back in the starting lineup after getting spiked on the right elbow on a slide by Yairo Munoz at second base in the eighth inning Saturday. Correa left the game in the ninth inning.
Cardinals: Fowler remained out of the starting lineup after fouling a ball off his left foot in Friday’s game.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (13-4, 2.86) will face Cleveland RHP Shane Bieber (10-3, 3.44) in the first of a three-game series in Cleveland on Tuesday. Verlander is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last three starts. He has given up four earned runs over 18 innings.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (7-7, 4.63) takes on Chicago Cubs RHP Yu Darvish (3-4, 4.54) in the first of a three-game series in St. Louis on Tuesday.
The Cardinals are 6-1 in Wainwright’s last seven starts against the Cubs.