HOUSTON — Houston’s Bud Norris had waited more than four long months since his previous win.
The last few minutes of that wait may have been the toughest.
Norris pitched into the eighth inning for his first win since May 21, and Jose Altuve homered and the Astros avoided a sweep with a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, who are vying for the second National League wild card, on Wednesday night.
After he left the game he stood nervously in the dugout fidgeting as he watched Wilton Lopez work a five-out save to complete the three-hitter and guarantee former Cal Poly star Norris the victory.
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“It means a lot. It’s been a long year for me,” Norris said of getting the win. “I’ve dealt with a lot of little things here and there. Blister, to hip flexor to knee to scalp, it’s just been a frustrating year on that part so to win meant a lot.”
Norris (6-13) allowed two hits and struck out seven without a walk in a season-high 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 index finger of his right hand and flu-like symptoms. He was helped Wednesday by a liquid skin adhesive his sister sent him that he used on his blister.
He was emotional following the win as he reflected on his time with the team. He’ll be arbitration eligible this offseason, so there’s a possibility Wednesday’s start could be his last in Houston.
“I’ve seen a lot in three years here, a lot of trades, a lot of moves, new owners, new manager, new bench coaches, coaches all over,” he said. “There’s only been a couple of guys in this locker room that have been here this long with me. We’ve been through a lot. We’ve seen a lot at a young age (and) learned to deal with adversity.”
Lopez got his eighth save, and Norris clapped his hands once and smiled when Houston got the final out.
Interim Houston manager Tony DeFrancesco was happy to see Norris get back in the win column.
“That’s a guy we’re hoping to be a No. 1 starter,” he said. “Once he’s healthy, he proves the guy can pitch.”