ST. LOUIS -- The Astros' closer situation has mostly been a strength for the past 13 seasons, with hard throwers like Billy Wagner (1997-2003), Brad Lidge (2004-07) and Jose Valverde (2008-09).
The guy who is in line to be the next hard-throwing closer in Houston, Matt Lindstrom, is still waiting for his first Astros save, but he did get the opportunity to finish Thursday's 5-1 win over the Cardinals, hurling a scoreless inning of relief, which ended the team's eight-game slide.
"I have to be ready when the opportunity presents itself and give the team a chance," Lindstrom said before Thursday's game. "They are working hard all game, so I have to do my part."
Lindstrom saved five of his six opportunities for the Marlins in 2008 and then converted 15 out of 17 save chances a year ago for Florida, though his ERA rose from 3.14 in '08 to 5.89 in '09.
Lindstrom and fellow right-hander Brandon Lyon, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract with Houston in the offseason, were competing for the closer's spot in Spring Training.
But since winning that role, Lindstrom has appeared in just three regular-season games, allowing two runs -- including a home run -- on three hits, while striking out three in three innings.
"The ball needs to bounce our way once in a while, too," Lindstrom said before Thursday's victory. "We haven't gotten any breaks either. It's been all kinds of little stupid things. We have to keep battling and keep plugging away at this thing. We have a lot of season ahead of us. We can't hang our heads."