Wainwright, however, felt a couple of things in his game were lacking. One was a disappointment -- that he couldn't get a complete game. The other, more nettling -- that again he failed to help himself at the plate.
"I definitely would have liked to have finished that game," Wainwright said. "I feel really good about the game, but it's kind of a letdown that I wasn't efficient enough down the stretch to finish that game.
"But at this point of the season -- Tony (La Russa) knows best -- it's probably not wise to run me out there for 140 pitches. I never argue with him. He's got a lot of wins."
At the plate, Wainwright, once a .400 hitter with a home run, has dropped to .171 in an 0-for-17 dive. He failed to get a sacrifice bunt down in the fourth before Cesar Izturis rescued him with a two-run triple.
"Is that a joke, or what?" Wainwright said, self-deprecatingly. "I'm embarrassing myself, but I'm also hurting the team bad. And I don't say that jokingly."
This victory was determined early, in large part by the defense.
Earlier in the inning, second baseman Brendan Ryan made a snap throw to first after fielding a deflection by Wainwright to nip speedy Michael Bourn. Ryan also made a leaping catch to take another hit away from Bourn in the sixth.
CARDINALS 6, ASTROS 1: The Cardinals scored three runs on only one hit in the first inning, and shortstop Cesar Izturis tripled home two runs in the fourth. The Cardinals' win, authored by Adam Wainwright's eight strong innings, broke a tie with Houston for second place in the National League Central Division. St. Louis is 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--Rookie RHP Chris Perez finished up his sixth consecutive scoreless outing by pitching the ninth.
--The Cardinals reached the one-third point of the season, 54 games, at eight games over .500 (31-23). They didn't win their 31st game last year until June 19, when they were 31-37.
--RHP Mike Parisi, who was brought up from Class AAA Memphis to fill a void in the bullpen even though he had spent his entire minor league career as a starter, will return as a starter Saturday night. The 25-year-old will take the turn of veteran RHP Joel Pineiro.
Pineiro, who hasn't won a game in a month (four starts), was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21 because of a strained groin muscle he injured while shagging flyballs in the outfield in San Diego.
--To replace RHP Joel Pineiro on the roster and RHP Mike Parisi in the bullpen, the Cardinals recalled RHP Kelvin Jimenez, 27, who had been excelling at Memphis. Jimenez, who pitched in three games for the Cardinals in April, appeared in 20 games covering 24 innings for Memphis, compiling a 1-2 mark with one save and a 1.88 ERA. He fanned 14 and walked just three.
--2B Adam Kennedy, locked in a 4-for-45 dive that has knocked him back to .242, sat out Wednesday's game. "I think he's getting frustrated," manager Tony La Russa said.
--OF Ryan Ludwick's bases-loaded walk in the first inning was the Cardinals' seventh of the season.