"They played well—and we didn't," La Russa said. "It wasn't much of a game."
Not only was the Cardinals' starting pitching below their normal level this season, but their defense wasn't good either. Center fielder Rick Ankiel made two ill-advised throws, one sailing well over the catcher at the plate, as the Astros jumped Looper for four game-deciding runs in the first inning.
La Russa said, "We like aggressiveness, but if it's something that makes no sense, you call him on it."
On the first play, a throw to third, La Russa said, "If it's anybody but (Michael) Bourn, he throws him out."
First baseman Albert Pujols did his part, getting a homer, double and two singles. He is hitting .410 (16-for-39) over his last nine games.
Astros 8, Cardinals 2: After playing well on their recent six-game trip, on which they won four games, the Cardinals threw a clunker Tuesday, falling behind 4-0 in the first inning and staying behind. Besides first baseman Albert Pujols' 12th homer, rookie left fielder Brian Barton cracked his first big-league homer.
NOTES AND QUOTES
• RHP Joel Pineiro may not make his next scheduled start Saturday. Already skipped one turn, Pineiro is still having trouble with a groin injury.
• C Yadier Molina picked Houston C J.R. Towles off first base to end the first inning. That was the fourth baserunner Molina had trapped off first base this season and the 23rd pickoff of Molina's career.
• RF Ryan Ludwick, hitting .333 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs, sat out Tuesday but is expected to start most of the remaining games on the homestand. LF Chris Duncan had been 2-for-7 with a home run against Houston RHP Shawn Chacon, but was hitless in four at-bats, fanning twice.
• 2B Adam Kennedy, mired in a terrible slump that has dropped him to .242, struck out three times in four at-bats.
• The Cardinals bullpen knocked off 4 2/3 more scoreless innings. Before RHP Mike Parisi allowed a run in the 10th inning in Los Angeles on Sunday, the bullpen had a scoreless streak of 19 innings.
By The Numbers: 3—Number of series the Cardinals lost in the first two months of the season.