The Astros got home runs from Jeff Bagwell and Richard Hidalgo in an 8-1 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night. The second-place Cubs dropped 1 1/2 games back by splitting a doubleheader at Pittsburgh.
“This is a huge win for us,” Bagwell said. “Right now all the games we win are huge.”
Houston has won six of seven and is a season-best 15 games above .500. The Cardinals are nearly out of the race, trailing by six games with seven to play.
“It’s a light at the end of the tunnel for them,” St. Louis’ Eduardo Perez said. “They’re in a pennant race and they did what they had to do to win.”
The Astros have beaten the Cardinals five straight times, including a sweep last weekend in Houston that knocked St. Louis back into the pack. The Astros are 11-5 overall against the defending NL Central champions.
In the last four games against the Cardinals, the Astros have won by a combined score of 28-7. The Astros have won 11 games in a season against St. Louis for the first time in franchise history, topping a 10-8 record in 1966.
STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Cardinals - 3rd place, 6 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Tim Redding (9-14, 3.80 ERA). In his last start, Redding combined with three relievers on a three-hitter to beat St. Louis 4-1 on Sunday. He allowed one run and three hits in six innings. Redding had been 0-5 in six starts since beating Florida on Aug. 1. The Astros scored an average of 1.6 runs in those losses. Redding has made six career appearances—five starts—against the Cardinals, going 2-2 with a 2.90 ERA.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Tomko (13-8, 5.27 ERA). The veteran right-hander, unbeaten in his last five starts, is seeking his career-high 14th win. In his last start, he was on the winning end of an 11-2 win at Milwaukee on Monday, allowing two runs and six hits over eight innings. Tomko has made nine career starts against the Astros in his career, going 3-4 with a 5.30 ERA.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 11-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 1B Bagwell is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with four homers and 10 RBIs in his career against RHP Tomko. … RHP Redding is 3-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 14 road starts this season. … Jeff Kent is 5-for-20 in his career against RHP Tomko. Cardinals - OF Pujols is hitting .462 (6-for-13) in his career against RHP Redding. … Left-handed batters are hitting .319 against RHP Tomko this season. … 3B Scott Rolen is 3-for-13 in his career against RHP Redding.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 39-40 on the road; Cardinals - 46-33 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Journell (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.