Apparently no one told the Cardinals that they were facing arch nemesis Bud Norris until after the first inning.
The Birds batsmen pounded Norris for three runs on five hits in the first before the Houston starter settled down and allowed only two more hits and one run -- an Allen Craig solo homer -- over five more innings.
It was just enough as the Birds held on to win 4-3 and even the series at a game apiece.
St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright allowed all three runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked one. Wainwright mowed down the Astros in the first three innings until his brisk pace was broken on a lazy play by right fielder Carlos Beltran.
Beltran casually glided beneath a ball with two outs in the third inning and swiped at it with one hand ala Barry Bonds. The ball hit him in the glove and then popped out to give Houston new life. Because of the miscue, Wainwright had to throw 18 extra pitches and probably lost at least an inning of work.
The bullpen managed to get the last 3 1/3 innings into the books without any further damage. But it wasn't easy. The Cardinals were in trouble in the bottom of the eighth with the tying run at first base for Houston and no one out.
The Astros tried to bunt the runner to second and a wild throw was made to Daniel Descalso as he covered first base. Houston tried to send the runner all the way home. But Descalso was able to retrieve the ball down the right field line and throw a strike to the plate to cut down the runner.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Allen Craig had two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs in the game.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Daniel Descalso's play at the plate.
Lowlight: Beltran's crummy play in the outfield.