The Cardinals' 9-2 win Thursday night over the Astros lends a healthy bit of support in favor of the belief that this is a pretty special team.
It would have been easy, with a rookie pitcher on the mound in place of injured starter Kyle McClellan, to make excuses and mail it in. But Lance Lynn did all you could ask of a guy making his second big league start -- and the Redbirds offense took care of the rest.
Lynn only allowed one run over five innings -- on six hits and three walks -- and kept the Birds in a tie game until the top of the sixth when St. Louis broke through for five runs.
Outfielder John Jay and Albert Pujols -- who started the game at third base but ended up at his usual position of first base -- walked to start the sixth. Lance Berkman singled to drive in Jay and move Pujols to third. Mark Hamilton grounded into what should have been a double play. But after getting the runner at second, Houston's defense was distracted by Pujols' delayed dash for home and the Cardinals made it 3-1 with only one out.
Backup catcher Tony Cruz singled and Colby Ramus walked to load the bases. Then Tyler Greene drew a bases load free pass to make the score 4-1 and Mr. Clutch, Daniel Descalso, doubled home two more to make the score 6-1 as Lynn hit the showers.
Pujols doubled in the seventh and Skip Schumaker drove him in to make it 7-1 in the seventh. After the Astros were held to one run despite having the bases loaded and no one out by Redbirds relievers Trever Miller and Jason Motte, Ryan Theriot hit a solo homer in the top of the eight and Berkman hit a monster home run that appeared to the girders of the roof in right field to provide the final 9-2 score.
Theriot, Jay and Berkman each had two hits on the night to pace the offense. Eduardo Sanchez, who walked both men he fadced in the first game of the Astros series, pitched a pair of really solid innings of relief to help put away Lynn's first major league win.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Berkman was 2-5 for the game with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. He raised his average to .331 and is back with a vengence after taking three days off to get a cortizone shot in the wrist he jammed last month while making a diving catch at Busch Stadium.
Cardinals Play of the Game: I am tempted to go with Berkman's homer or Motte's masterful job of wriggling out of a bases loaded jam. But Pujols' delayed move to try to score on a double play ball prevented the Astros from getting the twin killing and keeping the game close.
Lowlight: Mark Hamilton was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and previously mentioned easy double play ball that Pujols foiled. He's dropped to .150 for the season.