ST. LOUIS -- Brett Myers kept the Houston Astros close enough to capitalize on a big break.
Myers worked six strong innings and pinch hitters Cory Sullivan and Humberto Quintero hit back-to-back RBI singles in a four-run seventh after shortstop Brendan Ryan's throwing error in a 6-3 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
"It kind of snowballs, and that's a good thing," Sullivan said. "It's contagious and you want to stay with it."
Brad Penny (3-3) allowed four hits in seven innings with all four runs unearned after Ryan bounced a throw to first for an error on Carlos Lee's one-out grounder. Ryan Ludwick had three hits and an RBI for St. Louis.
"We had a chance to put them away, but we didn't," Penny said. "I felt too good to lose that game."
Myers (2-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in a rematch from April 14 in St. Louis against Penny, a 2-1 victory for St. Louis. He has worked at least six innings in all six starts and didn't disagree with an assessment that he battled.
"It seems like I hear that word a lot when I pitch; it's never really dominating, is it?" Myers said. "I didn't think I had my best stuff, but I think I was able to make pitches when I had to make pitches."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa batted the pitcher ninth for the first time in 14 games in an effort to get leadoff man Skip Schumaker out of a slump. Schumaker was 1 for 4 batting seventh, but replacement leadoff man Colby Rasmus went hitless with three flyouts and a strikeout.
The Cardinals have scored only 14 runs in seven starts for Penny, who has a 1.70 ERA.
"We had three or four chances, good chances with good hitters up there," La Russa said. "When you don't add runs, you put yourself in this position."
La Russa was supportive of Ryan, who also had a fielding error in the third for his second career two-error game. Ryan's defense has been dazzling at times to make up for a .179 average and he said, "If I'm not picking it, I'm probably not suiting up."
La Russa said Ryan would start Wednesday and added, "He's got to turn the page on at-bats and fielding."
Chris Sampson got Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday on groundouts with two on to end the seventh, and Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence added home runs off Jason Motte in the eighth to break it open. Matt Lindstrom finished for his seventh save in seven chances, and first since April 24.
"We all are in a rut," Pujols said. "I don't feel comfortable, I think Matt [Holliday] feels the same way."
Astros pinch hitters are batting .250 (14 for 56) with 10 RBI. Sullivan had been 1 for 18 before tying it with an opposite-field single off Penny. Quintero singled on the next pitch in his first pinch-hit opportunity for the lead and Michael Bourn added a bunt hit for an RBI.
The Cardinals missed a chance to blow it open in the third, settling for David Freese's RBI single and a 2-0 lead when Yadier Molina hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. Molina had been 4 for 5 with 11 RBI with the bases loaded.
Bourn, the Houston center fielder who entered tied for the major-league lead in assists, earned his sixth of the season when he easily threw out Schumaker trying to score on Penny's one-out line-drive single in the fourth.
Before the game, Bourn appealed a two-game suspension for making contact with an umpire. He had two hits and is 8 for 16 against the Cardinals.
Geoff Blum is 11 for 27 against Penny after going 1 for 2 with a hit by pitch, and got a spot start ahead of Pedro Feliz, 6 for 41 (.146) vs. the right-hander. ... Ludwick doubled, singled and walked against Myers, against whom he's 8 for 14 with two home runs. Ludwick also is 10 for 16 against the Astros this season with two RBI. ... The Cardinals defense entered with an NL-high 37 double plays and added two Tuesday. ... Astros LHP Tim Byrdak, on the DL with a strained right hamstring, will fly to Houston on Wednesday to be examined for a possible disk problem in his back.