HOUSTON (AP) - Jake Westbrook shook off early trouble on the mound and helped his cause with a three-run, tie-breaking double to help the St. Louis Cardinals to a 7-4 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
It was the NL-Central leading Cardinals' fourth straight win. The Astros have lost four in a row.
Westbrook (6-3) gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Lee in the first inning, but didn't allow another earned run to get his fourth win in a row. His bases-loaded, two-out double off Houston starter Brett Myers made it 5-2 in the fourth inning.
Former Houston star Lance Berkman hit his 13th homer of the season on a two-run shot in the first inning and Albert Pujols homered for the fourth straight game with a solo blast to left field in the eighth.
Fernando Salas allowed one run in two innings for his 11th save.
Myers (2-5) yielded six hits and five runs with four strikeouts in six innings. Houston left 13 runners on base and was 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position until Chris Johnson's RBI double made it 7-4 in the ninth inning.
Westbrook allowed eight hits and two earned runs while walking three in 5 1/3 innings, but he consistently escaped trouble with Houston runners in scoring position after giving up a two-run home run to Carlos Lee in the first inning that tied the game 2-2.
Westbrook allowed two singles in the sixth before J.R. Towles reached on an error by shortstop Ryan Theriot when the ball rolled between his legs to load the bases. Westbrook was replaced by Jason Motte, who plunked pinch hitter Matt Downs on the right hand to walk in a run and get Houston within 5-3.
Motte settled down after that and was able to limit the damage by striking out Michael Bourn before Clint Barmes grounded into a force out to end the inning.
Berkman returned to the Cardinals lineup after sitting out Sunday following a cortisone shot to the left wrist he injured making a diving catch last month. In his second trip to Houston since a trade last year, the slugger, who spent 12 seasons with the Astros, was greeted by a mixture of cheers and boos each time he came to the plate.
Myers allowed consecutive singles to Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker with two outs in the fourth before intentionally walking Daniel Descalso to load the bases. Then came Westbrook's line drive three-run double to center field that put St. Louis ahead 5-2.
Myers retired the next seven batters he faced before being replaced by Sergio Escalona, who struck out Descalso before Enerio Del Rosario took over.
Berkman gave the Cardinals the early 2-0 lead with his two-out blast to the bullpen in right center field.
Lee evened it up with his two-out homer to left field in the bottom of the inning. Hunter Pence extended his career-best hitting streak to 18 games with a single to set up Lee's blast.
Bourn singled with one out in the third inning before a single by Pence with two outs. Westbrook walked Lee to load the bases, but he retired Jeff Keppinger to escape the jam.
The Cardinals walked three Astros to load the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, but Houston came up empty once again when Salas retired the next three batters, striking out two of them.
Theriot had an RBI-double in the ninth inning to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 20 games and push the lead to 7-3. It's the fifth time he's extended the streak on his last at bat.
Westbrook was 0-2 in three starts against Houston before Tuesday and his three RBI match his career total in 57 at bats entering Tuesday's game.
Notes: St. Louis right fielder Allen Craig bruised his right knee when he crashed into the fence on the right field line chasing a foul ball in the first inning. He was replaced by Jon Jay. ... Houston RHP Brandon Lyon, pitched an inning on his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Manager Brad Mills said Lyon felt good after throwing 10 pitches in the inning. Lyon is on the 15-day DL with right biceps tendinitis and a partial right rotator cuff tear.