HOUSTON – Mitchell Boggs had been perfect as a closer until Tuesday night.
Boggs, who entered the game 3 for 3 on save opportunities, blew his first save of the season and spoiled Lance Berkman's homecoming as the Cardinals fell to the Astros 6-5 on a ninth-inning RBI by Bill Hall.
Boggs (0-1) gave up two runs — one earned — on four hits in 1-3 of an inning.
"It was a tough night for me," said Boggs, who had eight consecutive scoreless outings before Tuesday. "I didn't make the pitches I needed to make. I had a chance to field a bunt, and I couldn't do that. I just didn't make good enough pitches when I needed to make them. They did a good job of battling me and getting the job done, and I didn't."
Brian Bogusevic led off the ninth with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Michael Bourn laid down a bunt toward first, and Boggs tried to make a play on it but bobbled it instead for an error allowing Bourn to reach first.
Bogusevic scored on a wild pitch to tie things at 5-5, and Angel Sanchez and Hunter Pence followed with single to load the bases. After Carlos Lee popped to first base, Hall ended it with a single on a 2-2 pitch.
Boggs thought Bourn's bunt was what doomed him.
"He bunted it back at me, so I thought I had a chance to field it quick and go to third, which is probably not even a possibility, and I ... didn't make the play," Boggs said. "It's disappointing because we played a great game tonight. We battled back there in the ninth to get the lead, and I couldn't close out the inning."
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa pointed to missed opportunities to move men over in the third, sixth and eighth innings in the loss.
"We had three chances to get the guy over and in, and we missed all three, so we put our pitching in a tough spot all game long, including the ninth," La Russa said.
Cardinals' starter Jaime Garcia missed an opportunity to go 4-0 after allowing four runs — three earned — on six hits with five strikeouts over 5 1-3 innings.
"It was a good first couple innings, and I got out when I needed," Garcia said. "Unfortunately, I didn't do a good job the last inning that I pitched, but I was just fighting. I tried to stay out there as long as I could."
Boggs' horrendous ninth spoiled Lance Berkman's homecoming. Berkman went 2 for 5 in his return to Houston and drove in a run in the top of the ninth on an RBI-double off Brandon Lyon (2-1) to give St. Louis a 5-4 lead.
Berkman said before the game that being at Minute Maid Park as a visitor was a bit sad and lamented not being able to finish his career in Houston. He enjoyed the reception he received, but was upset his new team didn't get the victory.
"It's my job to drive guys in when I have the chance, and I had the chance to do it in the ninth to give us a chance to win the game," Berkman said. "They did a great job coming back. The bottom line is that we didn't win the game, and that's not good."
Berkman played 12 seasons with the Astros before being traded to the Yankees last year and signing with the Cardinals in the offseason.
He got a standing ovation on his first at-bat and singled before he was picked off trying to steal second. Though the crowd was overwhelmingly supportive, there were a smattering of boos each time he came to the plate and two men sitting beside each other had dueling signs addressing his return. One read: "Berkman's a traitor" and the other said: "Berkman is the man!"
Daniel Descalso's third extra-base hit and second double of the game drove in Yadier Molina and tied it at 4 in the eighth inning. Descalso entered the game with an 0 for 9 streak and finished with a career-high three RBIs.
NOTES: St. Louis SS Ryan Theriot was scratched from the lineup Tuesday night because of soreness on the right side of his rib cage. Manager Tony La Russa said Theriot was hurt during batting practice and that they would know more about his condition on Wednesday. ... Houston OF Jason Michaels was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a separated left shoulder. Bogusevic was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma to take his roster spot.