Cardinals Beat Astros to Maintain Lead for 2nd Wild Card Berth

September 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (26) rounds third and scores on a double by center fielder Jon Jay (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Starter Kyle Lohse lowered his ERA to 2.71 on the season with seven shutout innings against the league's worst offense and drove in a run to help his own cause as the Cardinals topped the Astros 4-1 on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. The St. Louis win allowed the Redbirds maintain their slim lead for the National League's second Wild Card berth.

Yadier Molina notched his 28th double of the season in the second inning and advanced to third on an error by left fielder J.D. Martinez with one out. After a David Freese pop out to second base, Daniel Descalso broke the 0-0 tie with a two-out RBI single. Descalso, who had a .220 batting average and .294 on-base percentage entering Tuesday's game, was one for three with a walk on the night.

With the score 1-0 in the fifth inning, warlock Pete Kozma smacked a triple to lead off the inning. Lohse followed with an RBI double that doubled the Cards' lead. Jon Jay made it three extra-base hits in a row with a double of his own that plated Lohse and made it a 3-0 ballgame. For some reason, Jay attempted to steal third base with two strikes and Carlos Beltran at the plate; the result was the second strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play of the game for Houston.

In the seventh inning, Jay notched his second hit and RBI with a grounder to right field that drove home Descalso, who led off the inning with a walk.

The Astros scored their lone run in the eighth against Mitchell Boggs. Jason Motte recorded his 36th save of the season. The standout pitching performance of the evening belonged to Lohse.

Lohse pitched predictably well against the National League's worst offense. The right-hander lasted seven innings, throwing 69 of his 102 pitches for strikes. Lohse allowed four hits and issued two walks while striking out five Astros on the evening. The veteran, who whined about not getting a pitching "win" after his last start, has nothing to whine about after earning his desired 15th pitching "win" on Tuesday night. The seven shutout innings lower Lohse's ERA to 2.71, four points higher than league-leader and Cy Young frontrunner R.A. Dickey, who also has a higher innings-pitched total and 76 more strikeouts than Lohse.

Several games were postponed due to rain on Tuesday. One of which was the Dodgers-Nationals, which means the clubs will play a double-header in D.C. on Wednesday. Another game with Wild Card implications, Phillies-Mets, was also postponed. The Pirates and Brewers played, however, with the Brew Crew winning 6-0.

After the rain postponements, wins, and losses tonight, here is the Wild Card standings table entering play on Wednesday:

Club

Wins

Losses

Winning %

GB of 2nd

Homefield GB

Last 10

Streak

Braves

85

64

.570

--

--

6-4

L1

Cardinals

78

70

.527

--

6.5

4-6

W2

Dodgers

76

71

.517

1.5

8.0

3-7

L1

Brewers

75

72

.510

2.5

9.0

8-2

W3

Pirates

74

73

.503

3.5

10.0

2-8

L1

Phillies

74

74

.500

4.0

10.5

7-3

W1


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