Cardinals 6, Astros 4

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—The NL Central will be decided in the final week of the season, and the St. Louis Cardinals have an outside chance to win.

Edgar Renteria had a key two-run double to back Sterling Hitchcock as the Cardinals beat Houston 6-4 Sunday, cutting the Astros’ NL Central lead to a half-game over Chicago.

So Taguchi hit a two-run homer for St. Louis, which took two of three from Houston and closed within four games of the lead. Last weekend, the Astros swept the Cardinals in a three-game series in Houston.

“It was neat after losing three down there to get two out of three here,” Hitchcock said. “Nobody wants to get eliminated. This shows a lot about this club and its character.”

Houston (84-71), which failed to hold a 3-0 lead, had won six of eight.

The Astros close the season at home with three games against NL West champion San Francisco and four against Milwaukee. The Cardinals (81-76) finish with two games at the Brewers and three at Arizona.

“The years we’ve won have usually gone down to the last week,” Houston’s Craig Biggio said. “It’s always a grind. We have the right mixture of veterans and young players to handle it.”

Hitchcock (4-1) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings, and Josh Pearce, Cal Eldred and Steve Kline worked an inning apiece, allowing a total of three hits. Jason Isringhausen finished for his 19th save in 22 chances.

“We don’t want to put ourselves out of it,” Isringhausen said. “If someone else puts us out of it, then that’s different.”

Jeriome Robertson (15-8) gave up five runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings. He had won his previous three starts.

“I might have had too much adrenaline,” Robertson said. “I was getting the ball up and way. When your team puts a lead up for you, you want to keep it.”

Lance Berkman was 3-for-3 with a two-run homer, and Adam Everett and Jeff Kent drove in a run apiece for Houston, which won the season series 11-7. The Astros went 39-42 on the road this year, while St. Louis went 48-33 at home.

Renteria’s opposite-field double chased Robertson and tied the score 4-4 in the fifth. He has 98 RBIs, two shy of becoming the first NL shortstop to drive in 100 runs since Hubie Brooks with the Expos in 1985.

“That’s a lot,” Renteria said. “This time of the year, they’re all big.”

Eli Marrero’s single off the leg of reliever Ricky Stone drove in the go-ahead run later in the fifth. Scott Rolen added an RBI double in the seventh off Jared Fernandez.

Everett’s RBI single in the second and Berkman’s two-run homer in the fourth had put the Astros ahead 3-0. While it was Berkman’s 24th home run, it was only his third this year batting right-handed and his first overall since Aug. 30.

Taguchi hit his second homer in the fourth, a two-run drive. He also threw out Everett trying to advance to third on pinch-hitter Jose Vizcaino’s single to center in the eighth.

Kent had an RBI single in the fifth as Houston went ahead 4-2. He’s batting.370 (20-for-54) during a 13-game hitting streak that matches his career best.


Robertson had a 2.41 ERA his previous three starts. He finished 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA against the Cardinals this year. … Taguchi was subbing for injured CF Jim Edmonds, who missed fourth straight start. … The Cardinalsdrew 2,910,366 at home, their first season below 3 million since 1997.

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