Cardinals Blank Astros, Remain in Sole Possession of No. 2 Wild Card Spot

Sep 19, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese (23) hits a 2 run home run against the Houston Astros during the second inning in the game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

After triumphantly returning to the St. Louis rotation last series against the Dodgers, the Cardinals prodigal starter Lance Lynn turned in another sterling start Wednesday at Busch against the Houston Astros. Lynn followed Kyle Lohse's seven shutout innings on Monday night with 6 1/3 shutout innings of his own as the Cardinals beat the Astros 5-0. The win helped the Redbirds preserve their slim lead in the race for the National League's second Wild Card berth.

The Cardinals struck first in the second inning. First baseman Allen Craig led off the inning with a single. After a flyout by catcher Yadier Molina, David Freese clubbed his 20th home run to center, making him the fourth Cardinal on the season with 20 dingers. Molina made the score 3-0 with his 20th homer on the season. This home run made the 2012 Cardinals the first club in franchise history with five players who homered twenty times or more on the season.

The Cardinals bats interrupted manager Mike Matheny's deployment of MUBOGMOT with two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Three singles started the inning: Jon Jay led off the inning with a single, Carlos Beltran did the same, and Matt Holliday then knocked in Jay to make it a 4-0 game. With runners on the corners, Craig plated Beltran with a sacrifice fly to push the St. Louis lead to 5-0.

Lance Lynn finished his 6 1/3 innings with three hits allowed, two walks issued, and five strikeouts induced. The start counted as the young fireballer's fifteenth quality start on the year. Lynn's ERA fell to 3.79 for the season. Lynn was relieved by Edward Mujica, who retired both batters he faced. Then Mitchell Boggs came in and fanned the side for a scoreless eighth inning. MUBOG- had a good night.

With the offense eliminating a save opportunity, Matheny turned to former starter Joe Kelly in the ninth instead of Jason Motte. The bespectacled righty pitched his way into a save situation with his accomplice Freese committing an error. Kelly was given the hook with the bases loaded an one out as Matheny called on Motte to clean up the mess. Motte did so by striking out the two Astros who stepped into the batter's box against him and, in doing so, earned his 37th save.

The Cardinals and Astros square off in the final game of the series Thursday at 12:45 PM CDT. The current probable pitchers are Jaime Garcia and Bud Norris. However, Norris is reportedly suffering from flu-like symptoms and may not be able to make the start.

After yesterday's rainout, the Dodgers and Nationals played a double-header in D.C. today. Washington won the first game of the twin bill and Los Angeles won the second. The Brewers topped the Pirates 3-1 and the Phillies beat the Mets. The Brewers appear poised to leapfrog the Dodgers to become the Cards' No. 1 Wild Card threat. Wednesday's results leave the Cardinals with a slightly larger lead in the race for the National League's second Wild Card berth.

Club

Wins

Losses

Winning %

GB of 2nd

Homefield GB

Last 10

Streak

Braves

86

64

.573

--

--

6-4

W1

Cardinals

79

70

.530

--

6.5

5-5

W3

Dodgers

77

72

.517

2.0

8.5

4-6

W1

Brewers

76

72

.514

2.5

9.0

8-2

W4

Phillies

75

74

.503

4.0

10.5

7-3

W2

Pirates

74

74

.500

4.5

11.0

2-8

L2


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