HOUSTON -- This has been a torrid month at the plate so far for shortstop Jed Lowrie, who entered Sunday batting .538 (7-for-13) in May and riding an eight-game hitting streak. He also leads the club with four homers and was sixth in the league with a .433 on-base percentage.
"I feel good," Lowrie said. "I've been saying this from the beginning, but I put in a lot of work in Spring Training, and I'm really happy with my approach right now, the way I'm seeing the ball and not trying to do too much. I'm really happy with where I'm at."
Lowrie is averaging about one home run every 19 at-bats, which is about twice his career average. But for a player who doesn't have the physical stature of Carlos Lee, J.D. Martinez or even Chris Johnson, he has some surprising pop.
"That's just the way the game works," he said. "You never hit 30 homers in a season and you've hit four at this point of the year, people don't really know who you are and that's fine. I'm not really worried about that. I'm focused on having good at-bats every time I go up there and helping this team win."
Lowrie has also not made an error this season.
Struggling Martinez takes day off amidst slump
HOUSTON -- Astros left-fielder J.D. Martinez, who entered Sunday mired in a 1-for-22 slump, was out of the lineup for the series finale against the Cardinals. Martinez has one hit since April 28, dropping his average to .247 from .310.
Martinez hit three homers in his first seven games of the season, but hasn't homered since, a span of 66 at-bats.
"It's just one of those things," Martinez said. "It happens every year. Right now, I'm just fighting and trying to get through it. I felt like I've put some really good at-bats together, and it's just sometimes you have a case of the 'at-'ems.' You hit some balls right at people, some balls that usually might go through. I'm working through it and I know I'll get it back."
Astros manager Brad Mills is hopeful a day off will help Martinez in much the same way it appeared to help Chris Johnson, who was out of the lineup on Tuesday and came back on Wednesday and went 4-for-4 with two homers and six RBIs.
"I think it will be good for him," Mills said. "We gave C.J. a day off last week and he comes back the next day and hits two home runs and seemed to have a better approach at the plate. Is that the answer? No. Just giving him a day off? No. Sometimes if a guy can just take a mental breather [it helps], and we're hoping that does it for him."
• Right-hander Rhiner Cruz, who's on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, threw 25 pitches in his first Minor League rehab outing on Saturday for Oklahoma City. He allowed two runs and one walk and struck out two batters, and manager Brad Mills says he was a little rusty having not pitched in nearly two weeks. Cruz will throw again Monday for the RedHawks.