Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Houston, 4-2, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
St. Louis starter Blake Hawksworth (3-5) struggled in the first inning, yielding back-to-back RBI singles to Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence, but wound up pitching into the sixth inning.
The Cardinals head into the All-Star break with a 47-41 record, one game behind the upstart Cincinnati Reds for first place in the National League Central.
Holliday's blast was one of four hits given up by Houston's Wandy Rodriguez (6-11), who fanned six through six innings.
The Astros go into the break with a 36-53 mark.
Michael Bourn walked to start the bottom of the first and a Jeff Keppinger single put runners on the corners with no outs. After Lance Berkman went down swinging, Lee and Pence both drove in a run to give Houston an early 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez retired the first 10 batters he faced before Jon Jay bunted for a single in the fourth. Jay advanced to third on a single by Albert Pujols and scored when Holliday deposited an offering from the diminutive southpaw over the left-field wall.
The Astros threatened in the fifth, placing runners on second and third with two outs, but Hawksworth escaped the jam by getting Pedro Feliz to ground out.
A two-out RBI single by pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus increased St. Louis' lead to 4-2 in the eighth.
Ryan Franklin pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
Hawksworth gave up seven hits and walked three in 5 1/3 innings...Holliday has 16 home runs this season...Keppinger recorded three hits...Rodriguez had won his previous three starts...Houston was 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.