ST. LOUIS -- Adam Wainwright against the Houston Astros has rarely been a fair fight and it wasn't on Tuesday night.
Working seven solid innings and getting a ton of offensive support, the St. Louis ace notched his 12th win, a 9-5 verdict at sold-out Busch Stadium.
In improving to 13-1 in his career against Houston (32-58), Wainwright (12-5) yielded just five hits and one run, on J.D. Martinez's first-pitch RBI single in the sixth. Wainwright walked one and fanned nine, six of them on curves in the dirt that Astros hitters couldn't stop chasing.
The Cardinals (54-34) lit up Bud Norris (6-8), who entered the game 8-5 against them in his career, for 11 hits and seven runs over five innings. They finished with 15 hits, getting three each from Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig and David Freese.
Carpenter went 3-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs, while Craig drove in a pair of runs to give him 71 on the season. The result, teamed with Pittsburgh's 2-1 loss to Oakland, moved St. Louis a game and a half in front in the NL Central.
Matt Holliday gave St. Louis a 2-0 first-inning lead with his 13th homer, a two-run blast which barely cleared the wall in left-center. It scored Matt Carpenter, who had his hand in the team's first six runs.
Carpenter made it 3-0 in the second with a sacrifice fly to left and then produced a two-out, two-run double down the right-field line in the fourth for a 5-0 advantage. Carlos Beltran singled in Carpenter to make it 6-0.
Jon Jay tacked on another run in the fifth with a two-out single down the left-field line that scored All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, who returned after missing the last two games with right knee inflammation.
Houston (32-58) batted around in a four-run ninth against Randy Choate and rookie Michael Blazek, forcing the Cardinals to wave Edward Mujica in for last-out help. It was Mujica's 24th save in 25 tries.
NOTES: St. Louis Tuesday released veteran INF Ty Wigginton and recalled C Rob Johnson from Memphis of the Pacific Coast League. Wigginton hit just .158-0-3 in 57 at-bats over 47 games, while Johnson hit .236-7-32 in 195 at-bats for the team's AAA affiliate. Johnson has played in 245 MLB games over parts of six seasons with Seattle, San Diego and the New York Mets ... The Cardinals also dealt RHP Mitchell Boggs to Colorado for the No. 4 international signing bonus slot. Boggs, who was the team's eighth inning pitcher last year, was demoted to Memphis for good in May and posted an ERA of just under 6.00 there ... Houston's No. 1 pick in June, RHP Mark Appel, worked three scoreless innings Tuesday in his second pro start for Tri-City of the New York-Penn League and was promoted to Quad Cities of the Midwest League right after the game.