Jon Jay had a two-run single to highlight a four-run third inning and Kyle Lohse tossed eight strong frames as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised to a 5-1 home triumph over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.
Pete Kozma had an RBI double in his first major league at-bat and Albert Pujols added a run-scoring single for St. Louis, which has won three in a row to move to within one-half game of the National League Central-leading Cincinnati Reds.
All was not rosy for St. Louis as both Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman left the contest with injuries. Holliday departed in the third inning with tightness in his left quadriceps while Berkman exited in the sixth with discomfort in his right wrist.
The offense, however, was more than enough for Lohse (5-2), who has now surpassed last season's win total. The 32-year-old righthander allowed one run and six hits before giving way to Eduardo Sanchez, who retired the side in order in the ninth to preserve the win.
Chris Johnson had an RBI single in the seventh and Humberto Quintero and Michael Bourn collected a pair of hits for Houston, which has dropped four in a row and 11 of its last 14.
Astros starter Bud Norris (2-3) struggled mightily, permitting five runs and seven hits in five innings to fall to 5-2 in his career against the Cardinals.