“Everything is about timing,” Sanders said. “I’m just out there doing my thing.” The Cardinals extended the pattern of home-field dominance that held throughout last year’s NLCS against the Astros. The home team won every game, giving St. Louis a seven-game victory and a trip to the World Series. In the league’s first championship rematch since 1992, the Cardinals again got the upper hand on their division rival, a team they finished 11 games ahead of in the NL Central. They have to get by the Astros again for a chance at World Series redemption after their four-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Game 2 is tonight. Houston’s 20-game winner, Roy Oswalt, goes against Mark Mulder of the Cardinals. The wild-card Astros got off to a poor start before the series even began. While running the bases in batting practice, starting pitcher Andy Pettitte was struck on the inside of the right knee with a sharp liner. ST. LOUIS — Remember this chant from postseasons long ago? “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!” There’s a new Mr. October in the baseball playoffs, and that first name sure sounds familiar. Reggie Sanders kept up his torrid postseason with a two-run homer and Chris Carpenter grounded Houston’s offense, leading the St. Louis Cardinals past the Astros 5-3 in Game 1 of the NL championship series Wednesday night. Pettitte didn’t look like a pitcher who was 17-9 with the NL’s second-lowest ERA (2.39) during the regular season. “It swelled up on him and that was probably a little factor in the game,” manager Phil Garner said. “He was trying to pitch through it.” Pettitte finished batting practice, then ducked into the clubhouse for treatment. “It was a freak accident,” he said. “I saw it the whole time. I tried to jump over it, but it hit my knee.” Sanders hit his mammoth shot in the first, and St. Louis made it 3-0 in the second on Carpenter’s squeeze bunt. Sanders, a flop in five previous postseasons, has resembled Reggie Jackson this time around. The 37-year-old outfielder had a homer and 10 RBI in a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres in the opening round. As Sanders trotted out to play left field in the top of the second, the fans who had just gotten an up-close look at the homer serenaded him with chants of “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!” For good measure, Sanders also made a leaping catch against the wall on Mike Lamb to end the sixth. Once again, the crowd erupted in chants of “Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!” Before this year, Sanders’ postseason resume was dismal: 36 for 191 for a .188 average, with five homers and 13 RBI. “This is such a big magnifying glass,” said Sanders, who has bounced around with seven teams in the last eight years. “Everything is heightened when you come through in key situations.” Carpenter was eager to get on the mound after last year’s NLCS, when he couldn’t pitch because of a nerve problem in his right biceps. A 21-game winner during the regular season, he escaped a couple of early jams and then took advantage of a comfortable lead when the Cardinals added two more runs in the fifth on RBI singles by David Eckstein and Albert Pujols. Carpenter had a shutout through 6 2-3 innings, but it was broken up by Chris Burke’s pinch-hit, two-run homer. Still, the Cardinals starter allowed just five hits and looked every bit like the ace of his team’s strong rotation. Sixteen of his outs were recorded on ground balls, the Astros continually pounding his sinker and cut fastball into the dirt. “I was in command of it all night,” Carpenter said. Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for the save, allowing an unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Brad Ausmus. Struggling through six innings, Pettitte gave up eight hits and his most runs since he was tagged for six by Baltimore on June 14. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!