The St. Louis Cardinals are tied with Atlanta for the NL wild-card lead, getting a clutch two-run triple from Ryan Theriot in the seventh inning of a 13-6 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
The sliding Braves lost 7-1 to Philadelphia, sending the race for the NL’s final playoff spot to the final day of the regular season. If the teams are tied after Wednesday’s game, St. Louis will host a one-game playoff on Thursday night.
The Cardinals trailed 5-0 early and appeared to be headed for a second straight loss to the Astros. But St. Louis scored five times in the fourth and erased a 6-5 deficit with a four-run seventh.
Lance Berkman hit a two-out single and scored on Allen Craig’s tying double. Yadier Molina walked before Theriot’s triple made it 8-6.
Yadier Molina walked before pinch-hitter Theriot delivered his clutch triple to make it 8-6.
Nick Punto, who had four hits, doubled in Theriot in the seventh and had a solo homer in the ninth. Craig padded the lead with a three-run homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field in the eighth.
Eduardo Sanchez (3-1) struck out two in 1 1/3 innings for the win in a game that included seven Cardinals relievers following an early exit by Jake Westbrook.
Skip Schumaker drove in three runs in the fourth, and Berkman had three hits and scored three times. The crowd booed loudly when Berkman, the longtime Astros star, scored the tying run in the seventh.
The Astros jumped on Westbrook for seven hits and five runs in 2 1/3 innings to take the early lead.
Enerio Del Rosario (0-3) yielded two hits and three runs for the loss.
Brian Bogusevic singled to start the Astros’ fifth before consecutive walks loaded the bases.
Bogusevic scored when Jimmy Paredes grounded into a double play, giving Houston a 6-5 lead.
David Freese walked to start the big fourth inning by St. Louis. Berkman singled with one out, and the runners advanced on a wild pitch by Henry Sosa.
Craig then walked before Molina singled in a run and Schumaker cleared the bases with a double to center, chasing Sosa. David Carpenter came in and allowed Jon Jay’s tying sacrifice fly later in the inning.
The Astros scored four times in the third. Brett Wallace had a two-run single and Jimmy Paredes added a two-run triple that rolled up on the corner of Tal’s Hill in center field.
Cardinals star Albert Pujols got hit on the right elbow by a ball that glanced off his bat for a foul in the seventh. He writhed in pain for a minute before trainers came and checked on him. He continued his at-bat after a short delay, flew out to left field and played the rest of the game.
Notes: Holliday returned to the Cardinals on Saturday after missing nine games with a tendon injury on his right middle finger. He is listed as day to day. … Cardinals SS Rafael Furcal, who left Monday’s game in the fifth inning with tightness in his left hamstring, was held out. Manger Tony La Russa said Furcal would not return for Wednesday’s game, but he wasn’t sure about his availability if the Cardinals play past that game. … Houston closer Mark Melancon and his wife Mary Catherine had a girl named Brooklyn Marie on Tuesday. … Chris Carpenter pitches for the Cardinals against Brett Myers in the regular-season finale on Wednesday. Myers has won four straight games and has a 1.24 ERA in his last five starts. Carpenter is 7-5 in his career against the Astros, but hasn’t won in Houston since 2005.