Anyone expecting James Paxton to be intimidated by a huge crowd and playoff-type environment would have been sorely disappointed.

It turns out Paxton in only his second career start Saturday night didn’t even realize how big the Busch Stadium crowd actually was. Not that anyone heard much cheering from the 41374 fans during a 4-1 win by Paxton and a Mariners squad that held the St. Louis Cardinals to just three hits all night.

“I was really just kind of locked in on the catcher” said Paxton who allowed two singles over six scoreless innings. “I didn’t really hear the crowd much. I kind of noticed how many people were there after they took me out of the game.

“I said to somebody ‘Wow there’re a lot of people here huh?’ I just kind of stayed locked in and focused on what was going on.”

Paxton became the first Mariners pitcher since Erik Hanson in 1988 to allow just one earned run over two inaugural career starts of at least six innings apiece.

“He’s pitching in a very mature fashion for someone that’s only had a couple of starts” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s pitching with a great deal of confidence and seems to be calm out there.”

And while Paxton was shutting down the first-place Cardinals the Mariners finally got their “small ball” act together just long enough to end their five-game losing streak.

A leadoff single by Dustin Ackley in the fifth off previously unbeaten rookie starter Michael Wacha was followed by a four-pitch walk to Paxton. Both moved up on a Brad Miller bunt and scored on an ensuing double by Franklin Gutierrez.

Kendrys Morales hit a solo homer in the eighth off relief pitcher Tyler Lyons to make it 3-0 and the teams traded runs from there before Danny Farquhar closed out the ninth. Wacha was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth and took his first loss after coming in 3-0 with a 2.72 earned-run average.

Paxton hadn’t swung a bat in an actual game since age 13 in his hometown of Ladner B.C. He said he drew a walk in that prior plate appearance as well and didn’t really know what to do when he got on base again this time around.

“It was a little nerve-wracking’’ he said. “I didn’t really know what to do with the bat after I got walked. I just dropped it and then told the umpire when I was at second base that I hadn’t run the bases in about 11 years so he gave me a little chuckle.”

Paxton said he tried to keep an eye on whatever Ackley did in front of him when running the bases. His teammates kidded him about his “rounding of third base” on the Gutierrez double.