David Freese struck out three times in the first six innings Thursday night.
He more than made up for it over the last three.
Freese hit his first career grand slam and a two-run homer and rookie Lance Lynn struck out a career-high 11 in earning his ninth win as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised past the Houston Astros 14-2.
It was the first career multi-homer game for Freese and his six RBIs tied a career-high.
"A typical night. Start slow and finish fast," Freese said with a laugh.
Freese's slam in the seventh inning was the third homer of the game for St. Louis. He added a two-run shot in the ninth as the Cardinals scored a season-high.
Carlos Beltran connected on his National League-leading 16th homer in the fifth and Shane Robinson added a two-run shot in the seventh to help the Cardinals take the series.
Lynn's nine victories are tied with R.A. Dickey of the Mets for most in the NL.
Lynn (9-2) allowed six hits and two runs to continue his mastery of the NL Central.
He is 7-0 with 60 strikeouts in 15 career appearances in the division.
"You could tell he felt really good today," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
"The ball was jumping out of his hand he was blowing fastballs pretty good."