HOUSTON -- The high fly to right field that Daryle Ward hit in the bottom of the 12th inning only took two or three seconds to come down. It seemed like an eternity to him.
When it finally landed, it hit the right-field foul pole and Ward had a home run that gave the Houston Astros a 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
"It seemed so long," Ward said. "I was just praying that it didn't go foul. It was hooking and I just wanted it to hit the foul pole. I was waiting to exhale ... and I got to."
It was the second home run of the year for Ward, who is starting full-time for the first time because Moises Alou left in free agency. And it came on an 0-1 pitch leading off against Luther Hackman, whom Ward had never faced.
"The first thing that came to my mind was I didn't want it to be a judgment call by the umpire," Ward said. "I wanted it to clearly hit the pole so there would be no doubt.
"It shocked me that I got such a good pitch to hit. After the first-pitch strike, I knew I had to be ready. To see the ball out over the plate like that made my eyes get real big."
It did the same for his teammates.
"This was a big win for us," said Jeff Bagwell, whose RBI single in the ninth helped fuel a three-run rally. "Instead of being 2-4, we're 3-3. More importantly, it showed us that we have a little bit of perseverance and that we can come back."
Hackman (0-1) had no excuses about his pitch to Ward.
"It was just a mistake pitch and he hit it," Hackman said. "It was a fastball middle in. I was trying to throw a sinker away.
"I hadn't faced him before but I know he has power. If I make my pitch, I still get him out. But I didn't and he hit it."
The Cardinals still took two of three in the showdown of teams that tied with 93-79 records last year.
"We played one bad inning," manager Tony La Russa said. "Three days here and we never took anybody cheap. With that club's potential to score, that says a lot."
Ricky Stone (1-0) pitched two hitless innings and struck out three for the victory.
The Astros rallied for three runs in the ninth off Mike Timlin to tie it at 6.
Bagwell hit an RBI double with two outs and Lance Berkman was intentionally walked to load the bases. Richard Hidalgo followed with a two-run single to tie it, then Ward grounded out to send the game into extra innings.
Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer for the Cardinals and also stole home as part of a ninth-inning double steal.
J.D. Drew hit an RBI single in the eighth off Octavio Dotel to put St. Louis ahead 4-3, and the Cardinals added two runs in the ninth off Billy Wagner.
Edmonds singled, advanced on a sacrifice and a groundout and came home as Eli Marrero swiped second. Edgar Renteria doubled in a run for a 6-3 lead.
Edmonds continued his hot hitting in Houston. He is 27-for-62 with six home runs and 14 RBIs in 16 games at Astros Field.
Then in the 11th, he caught Hidalgo's fly ball and threw out Jose Vizcaino at the plate to keep it tied.
Cardinals starter Darryl Kile allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. He is 2-4 with a 4.19 ERA in eight starts against his former team.
Astros starter Wade Willer gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings. He also went 2-for-3.
Fernando Vina's RBI single put St. Louis ahead in the third, but Houston took the lead in the bottom half on Vizcaino's RBI double and Gregg Zaun's run-scoring single.Martinez leaves game
Cardinals 1B Tino Martinez left the game as a precautionary measure in the fourth inning after bruising his right kneecap as he ran into a fence chasing down a foul ball. He is day-to-day.
Albert Pujols hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs to lead the Cardinals past the Astros 8-4 Saturday night.
Matt Morris (2-0) gave up two unearned runs in six innings as he ended a two-game losing streak to the Astros. He gave up six hits and two walks and struck out seven.
Marrero and Mike DiFelice also homered for the Cardinals. Marrero also doubled and tripled as he went 3-for-4.
The Cardinals took the lead for good in the seventh on a Pujols sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. DiFelice and Marrero hit back-to-back homers in the eighth to make it 5-2. Pujols added an RBI double in a three-run ninth.