ST. LOUIS -- Danny Cox found out Sunday just how far he has traveled this season.
Cox, who began his year with the St. Louis Cardinals' extended spring training team and hit every level in the minor leagues -- A, AA and AAA -- before reaching the majors, notched his first major-league victory, a 5-2 triumph over Nolan Ryan and the Houston Astros.
'At the beginning of the year my biggest goal was to get my arm in shape and get up to Double A and give it my best,' Cox said. 'I got there, and it was totally unexpected when I got called up to Triple A.
'I threw the ball well there but I didn't get any decisions. The next thing I knew, I was here. This is the first place where I've had to unpack my suitcase. I've been on the road a long time.'
Cox, a 23-year-old right-hander, evened his record at 1-1 by allowing eight hits over 7 2-3 innings, striking out five and not walking a batter. He extended the Cardinals' winning streak to five games.
The victory also completed a sweep of the four-game series over Houston and was St. Louis' ninth win in 10 games over the Astros this season. It also was the Cardinals' 10th consecutive triumph over Houston at home dating back to last season.
'Darold Knowles (the Cardinals' minor-league pitching coach) told me two months ago when he was at Arkansas that if anybody was ready for the majors it was him,' Manager Whitey Herzog said.
Cox' performance capped a fine series by St. Louis pitchers. He extended their string of innings without allowing an earned run to 28 2-3 before Jose Cruz slammed his 11th homer of the year over the left field wall with two out in the eighth.
Neil Allen relieved Cox in the eighth and Bruce Sutter came on to get the final out in the ninth for his 14th save.
In the four games against Houston, Cardinal pitchers allowed just six runs in 37 innings, an average of 1.46 runs per game.
'We had an awful lot of hits in our last series in Cincinnati and you usually cool off some but not that much,' said Houston manager Bob Lillis. 'You have to give their pitchers a lot of credit.'
The major contributor to the Cardinals' offense Sunday was George Hendrick, who raised his average to .330 by going 4-for-4 and driving in two runs.
The Astros broke a string of 22 scoreless innings with an unearned run in the second when Ray Knight led off with a single, went to third on a throwing error by Hendrick and scored on Jerry Mumphrey's sacrifice fly.
St. Louis took a 2-0 lead in the first off Ryan, 12-6. Lonnie Smith led off with a double and scored on an RBI single by Willie McGee, who went to second on a catcher's interference call against John Mizerock and scored on a hit-and-run single by Hendrick.
The Cardinals added a fifth-inning run on Hendrick's two-out RBI infield single and scored two more runs in the sixth on consecutive two-out singles by Mike Ramsey, Cox, Smith and McGee.
Ryan struck out five in his six innings before leaving for a pinch hitter.