Correa and Cole help Astros even the series

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 8-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With their bullpen having a disappointing performance resulting in a loss in the series opener, the Astros looked to Gerrit Cole on Saturday to even the series with the Cardinals. Here is a rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 8, Cardinals 2.

Record: 67-39, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (12-5, 2.94 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-1, 3.76 ERA).

1) Correa leads an early offensive charge

Houston took advantage of a struggling Daniel Ponce de Leon early in the game, starting in the first inning. They put runners on the corners with one out, setting up Michael Brantley for an RBI-groundout to start the scoring at 1-0. Carlos Correa doubled that lead in the next at-bat, getting an RBI-single to make it 2-0 in his biggest hit since returning to the lineup.

They put more traffic on base in the third inning, working three consecutive one-out walks, bringing Correa back to the plate. He put up an even bigger highlight than his hit in the first, launching a grand slam to make it a 6-0 game and giving him five RBIs through the first three innings.

2) Cole stays hot

Gerrit Cole continued his hot summer, giving his team yet another dominant start on Saturday night. He allowed just one run, a solo homer to Paul Goldschmidt who has been unstoppable of late. Otherwise, it was another steady, strong night for Houston's other Cy Young contender.

The only thing unusual for Cole in the start was that he didn't record his normal double-digit strikeouts. Instead, he saw a lot more balls in play, though he did not allow more than two hits in any inning. Cole's final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston evens the series

With Cole leaving with a 6-1 lead after seven innings, it should have been easy work for the bullpen to wrap up the last two innings for the win. George Springer helped add some further insurance, though, getting a two-RBI double off the wall in the top of the eighth to extend the lead to 8-1.

Joe Smith was the first reliever out of the bullpen and despite allowing a run to score made it through the eighth inning. During the inning, Carlos Correa would field a force-out from Jose Altuve at second but ended up taking a cleat spike to the arm from the incoming slide. He remained in the game to finish the inning.

Hector Rondon had the ninth, and preserved the six-run lead to finish off the win and put the series even at a game apiece.

Up Next: These two teams will conclude this series tomorrow with a 1:15 PM start time with the series on the line. Houston is expected to start quick-working Wade Miley (8-4, 3.18 ERA), while the Cardinals will counter with Dakota Hudson (10-4, 3.61 ERA).

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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