KISSIMMEE, Florida — After a handful of spring training games, the St. Louis Cardinals like what they see at the top of their batting order.
Matt Carpenter, Jason Heyward and Matt Holliday all produced hits Tuesday in a 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros.
Heyward, the right fielder acquired in a trade from Atlanta, "fits in that second spot pretty well," manager Mike Matheny said,
Heyward batted first and fifth last season with the Braves. His best season came in 2012 when he hit 27 home runs, mostly from the No. 3 spot.
According to Matheny, Heyward hitting second "gives us two three-hole hitters; one just gets up there before the other one."
Carpenter singled off starter Brett Oberholtzer and scored a run. Heyward drove in a run with a third-inning single, and Holliday doubled in the fifth.
Oberholtzer gave up two runs in three innings, and criticized himself for getting "too much of the plate" on a leadoff double by Tony Cruz.
"I threw strikes, which is what you want to do in spring training, but I think I have to do a better job of finishing guys off, or at least throwing some balls to change the thought processes of them," he said.
Cardinal starter Carlos Martinez struck out three in 2 2-3 innings, giving up a first-inning run on doubles by Luis Valbuena and Jon Singelton.
Rookie second baseman Jacob Wilson had three hits for the Cardinals including an eighth-inning home run off Josh Fields.
Jed Lowrie hit two doubles for the Astros and backup catcher Max Stassi homered off Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Cardinals: OF Jon Jay, recovering from wrist surgery, is taking batting practice and might get into a game by the end of this week or early next week, according to Matheny.
Astros: Reliever Joe Neshek will miss at least a week after an X-ray Tuesday revealed the beginnings of a stress fracture in his right foot.
Cardinals: Martinez said he felt more comfortable with his sinker as the game progressed. He had no walks.
THREE LONG YEARS
Jeff Bagwell, Houston's home run leader, showed up in camp Tuesday and plans to help out the Astros this week. "I did have success, but I had some failures, too," Bagwell said. "I struck out 1,500 (actually 1,558) times. That's three years of striking out, so I understand it's difficult."
Cardinals: Marco Gonzalez is to get his second start of the spring against the Atlanta Braves.