ST. LOUIS -- Andy Pettitte came to Houston to do one thing: win in the postseason.
Pettitte will have to wait for another start as he lost for the first time in a League Championship Series since 1998. The left-hander gave up five earned runs in six innings as the Astros lost Game 1 to the Cardinals, 5-3.
The Astros offense threatened, but didn't do much against the superb pitching of Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals defense.
Behind the numbers
Whether they were missed opportunities or opportunities robbed from them, the Astros were unable to score when it mattered the most.
The Astros had runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and ninth innings and pushed across only one run. Two of the three runs they scored came on another pinch-hit homer by Chris Burke, a two-run bomb in the seventh.
A look at key statistics through Game 1 of the NLCS.
||Up from the 4.30 ERA they posted in the NLDS
||Missed opportunities were the story
|BA w/ RISP
||Unable to deliver clutch hits
||Astros have scored four runs in their last 18 innings
||Solid defense in Game 1
||1.000 average (1-for-1), 1 HR, 2 RBIs
||Had two of the team's three RBIs
||7.50 ERA, lost his first League Championship Series Game since 1998
||Cardinals bats were too much
Down 3-0 in the third inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Lance Berkman grounded into a double play to end the threat.
With two outs and a runner on first base the Astros elected to pitch to MVP candidate Albert Pujols instead of walk him to get to Reggie Sanders. Pujols made them pay, ripping a long single to score David Eckstein from first base for the fifth and final run of the game for the Cardinals.
The winner of the first game in the LCS has advanced to the World Series in each of the last 12 seasons.
"I don't remember who won the first game here last year -- well, they did because we played here. But clearly, we'll have our work cut out for us. We knew that. But stranger things have happened. This club bounces back, and we'll bounce back."
-- Houston manager Phil Garner, on losing Game 1 of the NLCS
Stephen A. Norris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.