ST. LOUIS (Ticker) --
had a pretty good month in one night.
Ausmus hit a grand slam, belted the decisive solo shot in the 12th and threw out three potential base-stealers in extra innings as the
edged the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-5.
Known best for his defense, Ausmus capped a five-run first inning with his second career grand slam, then watched the Cardinals rally to tie in the fifth before the bullpens took over.
Ausmus led off the 12th with a home run, belting a 1-1 pitch from
(0-1) over the wall in left field.
It was the first time in 1,175 career games Ausmus has hit two home runs. Ausmus, who matched a career high with five RBI, has just 61 lifetime.
"Don't talk about the home runs," he said. "Then they're going to expect me to hit for power, and I can't."
Ausmus also showed why he has won the last two Gold Glove Awards for catchers in the National League, throwing out
at second in the 10th inning,
at second in the 11th and
at third to end the game.
"It's the best game I've enjoyed in the big leagues on a personal level," Ausmus said. "It was one of those days for me. Usually, it would take me a month to do all of that."
"He threw out three guys, blocked some balls in the dirt. I don't know if he can have a much better game than he did," Astros manager
said. "He drives in five runs, we win, 6-5. He throws out three guys, that's outstanding."
(1-0) allowed two hits in a scoreless 11th and picked up the win.
worked around a walk and a hit batter in the 12th for his first career save, striking out
on a game-ending double play.
both homered twice for the Cardinals, who had won their first three games of the season. The Astros have won three of four to start the year.
Houston scored five unearned runs in the first inning as leadoff batter
reached base when Marrero dropped his line drive to right field.
's fly ball would have stranded runners at first and second.
singled home Biggio with one out and Ausmus followed a pair of walks by sending
's 1-1 pitch over the left field wall.
"It was a fastball in," Tomko said. "Looking back on it, it wasn't that bad of a pitch. He must have been looking in there. He almost wrapped it foul, but it's one of those things."
In his first start for the Cardinals, Tomko allowed five runs - none earned - and six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings, settling down considerably after the first. He said Marrero's error should not have affected him.
"I should have gotten out of that inning," Tomko admitted. "I had my opportunities to shut down the door on that inning. But for whatever reason, I didn't get it done."
St. Louis chipped away against Astros starter
as Edmonds stroked an RBI double in the first, homered in the third and added a two-run shot in the fifth. Pujols followed with a 429-foot solo blast to left-center, tying it at 5-5.
continues to kill us," Ausmus said of the Cards' center fielder, who went 4-for-4 after hitting .429 with seven homers against Houston in 2002. "To me, I'd pitch him the way we pitch
- just put him on base."
The pitchers took over thereafter. After Ausmus' one-out single in the sixth, St. Louis set down 14 consecutive Astros. Houston pitchers faced just two over the minimum from the sixth through the 10th.
The Cardinals retired 16 of 17 batters before Ausmus stepped to the plate to start the 12th. He got a 1-1 fastball he liked and yanked it over the left field wall.
"I just left the ball out over the plate and he did what he probably should have done," Springer said. "We were going away and it ended up middle, middle in."
Lidge started the bottom of the inning by hitting Vina with an 0-1 pitch. He got
to fly out before walking
on five pitches.
Tony La Russa
started the runners on a 3-2 pitch, which Pujols swung through. Ausmus easily gunned down Vina at third to end the game.
"It's not a hit-and-run," La Russa explained. "It's just get the runner started to stay out of the double play. I think it sounds like an excuse, but I think it probably distracted Albert and he chased a bad pitch."
"I was just happy to get out of that inning," Lidge said. "I knew my command wasn't that good. When he threw that guy out at third, I was so pumped up. It wasn't the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but we got it done."