HOUSTON -- By design, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny employed his third second baseman of the three-game series in Houston. Tyler Greene got his chance on Sunday and made the most of it.
Batting from the eighth spot in the lineup, Greene went 3-for-3 with a walk. He hit two homers, a first in his career, and added a double. He drove in a career-high four runs, scored three more and threw in a stolen base for good measure, as St. Louis avoided a sweep of the three-game series, salvaging an 8-1 win at Minute Maid Park.
"We had that scripted from the beginning," Matheny said of Greene's start. "Skip [Schumaker] is doing a nice job. We're trying to keep him hot, but you've got to find time for all three of them. Any one of them could go and be an every-day guy for another team. So we've just got to keep them all sharp and give them opportunities."
But Matheny never could have scripted the result.
"You take whatever circumstance you're given and try to do the best with it," Greene stated after his career day.
"I was just able to get some fastballs out over the plate, put a really good swing on them. His fastball's got a little lift to it. I think when he's on, he's elevating that thing too. I think he was right in that middle zone, and I was able to do some damage."
The work put in with Cardinals hitting coaches Mark McGwire and John Mabry is beginning to pay dividends for Greene.
"Today was the first day to allow those adjustments and changes we made to really kick in and get accustomed to," Greene said. "Today was just a great indication of the work and the strides that we've been making."
What are those adjustments?
"A little mechanical thing with my back elbow, trying to keep it down and make a more direct path to the ball," Greene said, who added that he sensed a good day at the plate after his first at-bat.
"That felt good," he said of an opposite-field double, which narrowly missed being another homer. "It felt good to drive the ball the other way. That's always a good indication to any hitter that everything is working right.
"So I felt good. Even the at-bat I had [Saturday] was an improvement from where I've been earlier in the season."
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright continued his mastery over the Astros. The righty improved to 10-1 lifetime in 12 career starts with an ERA of 1.56 against Houston. That includes a 4-0 mark in Minute Maid Park, where the Cardinals have now won all five of his starts.
"I think today I was just very focused," Wainwright said. "I knew we needed to win that game, get some good momentum going and play a tough team in Arizona. I don't think it had anything to do with who I was facing more than just me out there executing."
Wainwright went seven innings, striking out seven and walking just one batter while scattering seven hits.
"Adam was great," Matheny said. "He seemed to have a real good feel for his fastball. It was sinking, it was hitting the corners. You could see that they were off balance. And then the curve ball seemed to have a little extra bite to it. The offense gave him a little room to breathe, but I don't think it would have mattered."
Houston right fielder Brian Bogusevic tipped his cap to Wainwright.
"He looked good today," Bogusevic said. "He was locating his fastball in and out and moving it up and down when he wanted to. His offspeed stuff he was throwing for strikes when he wanted to and out of the zone when he wanted to.
"He struggled early a little bit, but he definitely looked good today. I watch some video, and his last start or two he was pretty good, and he's definitely starting to get comfortable."
Wainwright said he felt in control from the beginning.
"It's the first time all year I've really felt extension out over the rubber and better life on the fastball, especially early on," he said. "I controlled the counts, for the most part, and let our defense work."
Greene's big day overshadowed another good game from first baseman Allen Craig, who homered and doubled in his first two at-bats, driving in three runs.
Since returning from the 15-day DL on May 1, Craig has recorded at least one RBI in each of his four games, driving in seven over that span.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.