By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Houston Astros are on the verge of their longest winning streak at Minute Maid Park in almost two years.
Jose Altuve has been a big reason for that success.
The Astros seek their fifth straight win overall and sixth in a row at home Saturday night in the middle game of this series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Houston (12-14) is hitting .301 with eight homers during a home winning streak that reached five with Friday's 5-4 victory over St. Louis.
The Astros, who last won six in a row at home July 27-Aug. 9, 2010, have been getting a huge lift from Altuve, who turns 22 on Sunday. He ranks among the NL leaders with a .360 average in his first full season in the majors after hitting .276 with 12 RBIs in 57 games last year.
Altuve has five hits in the past three contests, getting two Friday including a three-run homer. He's hitting .433 with two doubles and five RBIs in seven career games against the Cardinals (16-10).
"He has a nice short swing, and he's not missing too many pitches that catch too much of the plate, and he did it again (Friday)," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Bud Norris (1-1, 5.46 ERA) will try to keep the Astros rolling and continue his strong pitching versus St. Louis. The right-hander is 6-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 10 career starts against the Cardinals, compiling a 1.95 ERA while going 2-1 in four at home.
Norris, though, is 1-5 with a 4.87 ERA in 11 starts at home overall since allowing one run and one hit in eight innings of a win over the Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on June 8.
He tossed six scoreless innings Monday against the New York Mets before allowing three runs and getting pulled with two outs in the seventh. Norris, who left without a decision in a 4-3 win, has allowed at least three runs in one inning over each of the last four starts.
"The whole inning was a tough inning," Norris told the team's official website. "That's what you're supposed to do as a pitcher is get through those innings. Unfortunately, I've felt in a couple of starts this year I haven't been able to get that extra pitch to get out of that jam."
The Cardinals are scheduled to counter with Jaime Garcia (2-1, 2.78), who is still searching for his first win against the Astros.
The left-hander is 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA in five career starts against Houston, with all of them resulting in Cardinals losses, including all three at Minute Maid Park.
Garcia enters this game looking to rebound from his first loss. He gave up three runs - all in the sixth - and nine hits over seven innings in a 3-2 defeat to Milwaukee on Monday.
Garcia is 2-0 with a 3.40 ERA in his last nine road starts despite allowing opponents to hit .314 during that span.
St. Louis' Jon Jay is 14 for 27 with four RBIs in the past seven games, raising his average to .414. He has a .351 average in his past nine matchups with Houston.
Updated May 5, 2012