An offense that strikes out a season-high 14 times, nine of them called third strikes, certainly sounds futile enough. Everybody in the Cardinals’ starting lineup but Jon Jay whiffed at least once. And the pitcher wasn’t even hitting in this interleague game.

But the Cardinals did some serious damage on the balls they actually swung at as they pounded the Houston Astros, 13-5, Tuesday night, stopping their longest losing streak (tied) of the season at three games.

That latest streak was administered by Texas’ other big-league team, the Texas Rangers, over the weekend in St. Louis.

The Astros, like the Rangers now in the American League, weren’t quite as sticky, but Matheny said he did not put too much stock in what happened on the weekend although he did call a brief meeting before Tuesday’s game.

“It’s pretty hard to make too much out of a weekend when you look at a whole season and what our offense has been able to do,” he said. “I don’t think guys read anything into that at all.”

After being blanked for three innings, the Cardinals drew three key walks in the fourth (all scored) and Matt Carpenter, an area high school star here, cracked a three-run triple to highlight a seven-run inning.

Matheny did some lineup juggling on Tuesday but one spot he did not switch was his cleanup man. Allen Craig is doing fine.

Craig, enjoying a four-hit night, including his seventh homer, drove in three runs, giving him 61 in the Cardinals’ 77 games.

Matheny, who moved Matt Holliday from No. 3 to No. 5, said he didn’t feel any inclination to tinker with the No. 4 spot, especially with the cleanup hitter he has. “It’s not one to fool around with too much,” said Matheny.

Carlos Beltran (No. 18) and David Freese (No. 5) each belted a two-run homer and righthander Jake Westbrook, despite a mysterious sixth inning (four runs), which looked nothing like the first five (no hits), gained his fourth victory.

Westbrook, his sinkerball effective again, at least until the sixth, recorded 10 ground-ball outs of his 18 for the night before he turned the game over the bullpen.

Matheny agreed that it was “odd” for his team to strike out so many times, yet have so many hits (15) and score so many runs.

“Guys on our club were having called strikeouts you just don’t see very often. Something was a little off tonight,” said Matheny.

This was a gentle way of suggesting that home plate umpire Marvin Hudson’s strike zone took some getting used to, both for his hitters and even for Westbrook.

“There were a lot of things on both sides,” said Matheny. “The strike zone was tough tonight.”