On a night of a loss to Houston, the good news was that third baseman Mark DeRosa got his first two hits for the Cardinals after going 0-for-15 in his first five games with them. Rick Ankiel also had two hits, including a double, after going 2-for-33.
Both had been bothered by injuries -- DeRosa by a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist and Ankiel by weakness in his right shoulder -- so, manager Tony La Russa said, "There was some good in this game."
But La Russa said there wasn't enough offense overall to support Kyle Lohse, who pitched seven strong innings, giving up all three of his runs on one swing by Carlos Lee, who hit his 14th homer in the fourth inning.
Lee's homer followed a walk to Lance Berkman. "I can't walk Berkman there," Lohse said.
But La Russa said, "I wouldn't be talking about the Lohse walk or the three-run homer. I would be talking about our offense coming up short.
"We didn't do enough offensively. Lohse deserved better. He pitched an outstanding game against a good offensive club."
The Cardinals lost for the first time in four games against Houston this year.
ASTROS 3, CARDINALS 2: RHP Kyle Lohse has been scored on by the Astros in just one of 16 innings he has pitched against them this season. But that one inning was capped by LF Carlos Lee's three-run homer. It was Lee's fifth homer off Lohse in 56 at-bats. Lohse said he must be telegraphing his pitches to Lee.
--RF Ryan Ludwick blasted a 425-foot shot with two on and two out in the Cardinals' fifth. But it went to dead center at Minute Maid Park, where CF Michael Bourn caught it halfway up the hill. Ludwick said, "I took the swing I wanted to take. It wasn't enough. It was a 425-foot fly out. What are you going to do?"
--CF Rick Ankiel may have some nerve issues near his neck on top of a weak right shoulder. It's the result of a May 4 crash into the Busch Stadium wall. He had two hits in his first start of the second half and also made a running catch of a ball before he brushed the left-center-field wall.
--SS Brendan Ryan was "spectacular" defensively, said manager Tony La Russa. But Ryan, the only true shortstop on the club, has dipped into a 2-for-25 slide.
--RHP Joel Pineiro hasn't walked a batter in 32 2/3 innings. He has issued only 12 in 122 1/3 innings.
--The Cardinals, eight games over .500 again, have been remarkably consistent, home and road. After 94 games, they have played 47 at home and 47 on the road, with one more win (26) at home.
BY THE NUMBERS: 32 -- Number of career pickoffs for C Yadier Molina.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As long as I can go out there and not think about it, I should be fine. I want to get to the point where the wrist does not consume my every thought at the plate." -- INF-OF Mark DeRosa, returning to action after being disabled with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist.
--OF Chris Duncan, with one hit in his last 31 at-bats, still can't get anything going. Duncan ended the game as a pinch hitter by grounding into a double play.
--OF Colby Rasmus has one hit in his last 13 at-bats and has sunk under .270 after rising above .280 before the All-Star break.
--OF Nick Stavinoha started because of the short left field in Houston. Stavinoha was 0-for-3. He was robbed by Houston SS Miguel Tejada in the fifth inning.
--1B Albert Pujols didn't enjoy his usual domination over Houston RHP Brian Moehler. Pujols -- who was 9-for-15 with three home runs against Moehler before Monday -- was 0-for-2 with an intentional walk against Moehler before singling in the eighth off RHP LaTroy Hawkins. Pujols then was thrown out at second on a ball that didn't roll as far away from C Pudge Rodriguez as Pujols had thought. "I don't like to fault aggressiveness," manager Tony La Russa said.
--3B Mark DeRosa got his first two hits for the Cardinals after going 0-for-15 in his first five games with them.