Joel Pineiro and Brad Thompson combined for seven innings of shutout baseball while giving up just three hits and striking out four as the Cardinals beat Houston 5-1.

The Cardinals scored two in the third frame behind a two-run triple by nine-hole hitter Colby Rasmus. Rasmus has raised his average to .250.  It was under .200 at the beginning of the week.

Chris Duncan and Jason LaRue set up Rasmus by getting a base hit and double. The Cards scored three in the sixth after Rick Ankiel knocked in Tyler Greene with a base hit and Khalil Greene doubled home Ankiel and Albert Pujols, who walked.

Joel Pineiro has been near perfect this spring, as he allowed just one hit while striking out three. Brad Thompson followed with three scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out one.

Three Cardinals did not make the trip to play the Astros.  Joe Mather battling for the third base job and pitcher Shaun Garceau weren’t feeling well and outfielder Ryan Ludwick experienced oblique muscle discomfort after taking 1,000 batting practice swings after Friday’s game.