Bourn evolving into star player
Gold Glover off to strong start at the plate and in the field
ST. LOUIS -- Astros center fielder Michael Bourn has followed up his breakout 2009 campaign with a strong start to the '10 season.
Bourn hit .285 with 61 stolen bases and won a National League Gold Glove Award for his impressive work in the field last season, after hitting .229 and stealing 41 bags a year earlier in his first season in Houston.
The left-handed-hitting leadoff hitter, who came into Thursday's series finale at Busch Stadium with a .379 batting average, extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the sixth inning. He had two hits in each of his past three games and four out of his past five.
"And really, just not his hitting, [but] how he's playing defense," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "The play he made to get out of the first inning yesterday was outstanding. You do those and you put together what he's doing offensively at the top of the order, and that's a pretty special player. He's just continuing to evolve into that special leadoff hitter."
Astros general manager Ed Wade selected Bourn in the fourth round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, when he was the Phillies' GM, and then traded for him after he was hired in Houston. He knew Bourn just needed an opportunity to show what he was capable of.
"We gave him a lot of playing time," Wade said on Thursday. "In 2008, you could see the offensive potential was there. The defense was always there. He's got what I term baseball's version of world-class speed, whether it's on the bases or running balls down defensively. He's got a chance to be a really good player for a long time, because he understands what he's capable of doing and he's using his assets to the fullest at this point."
Lindstrom waiting to earn first Astros save
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."
No. 3 hole suits Feliz well
ST. LOUIS -- Astros manager Brad Mills moved third baseman Pedro Feliz into the No. 3 spot in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Cardinals, but then later switched the batting order and put right fielder Hunter Pence there for the sixth time this season.
On Wednesday, Feliz got his opportunity in the three-hole for the first time this season and came through with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and then a single in the fourth.
Feliz, who spent the past two seasons in Philadelphia after eight years with San Francisco, raised his batting average to .300 for the season, with three RBIs.
The third baseman was back in the No. 3 spot in the lineup for Thursday's series finale in St. Louis. But Feliz said hitting in that spot isn't a big deal.
"It's the same game," Feliz said following Wednesday's game. "I'm going to try to do my best and try to help the team."
ST. LOUIS -- In his workout at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, Lance Berkman hit off a tee and ran without any problems. There was no swelling reported, and if all goes well, Berkman is slated to travel to Triple-A Round Rock for a rehab assignment on Saturday and Sunday. ... Manager Brad Mills said on Thursday he was pleased with righty Brett Myers' performance on Wednesday night. "He did a real good job," Mills said. "He battled all the way through, all the way to the end. He was the pitcher that we always knew that we were getting, a guy that is going to compete, and that's exactly what he did." ... The last time the Astros were swept in three consecutive series was in 1996. The last time Houston lost three straight three-game series was in '95. ... The Astros drew back-to-back walks for the first time this season in Wednesday's 2-1 loss. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the team's six walks through its first seven games were the fewest by any club in the first six games of a season since the 1920 Phillies, who had just one walk during that span. ... The eight starting pitchers Houston has faced this season, which includes three former Cy Young Award winners, posted a combined 3.34 ERA in 2009 while winning 110 games and losing 69. ... This date in Astros history: Jeff Bagwell hit his first career Major League home run in 1991 in a 3-1 win against the Braves. Bagwell ended his career with a franchise-record 449 homers.
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.