Cardinals continue winning streak vs. Astros

St. Louis won its 10th straight game over Houston behind Jaime Garcia's pitching Tuesday night.



A couple of areas people thought were troublesome for the Cardinals were no problem at all on Tuesday night.


Left-hander Jaime Garcia, who had been only 1-5 against Houston in his career and who had a 5.63 earned run average on the road this season, blanked the Astros on six singles for seven innings.


And the new keystone combination of second baseman Daniel Descalso and rookie shortstop Pete Kozma excelled again both defensively and offensively in a 4-0 win that -- coupled with the Dodgers' and Brewers' losses -- cut to four the Cardinals' magic number for clinching a wild card playoff spot.


The win was the 10th in succession for the Cardinals over Houston this year and it was their eighth in their last nine games. Seven of the victories have come against the National League's bottom feeders, Houston and Chicago.


Garcia, featuring a good changeup and darting, late moving fastball, didn't walk a hitter as he beat Houston for the second time in five days. The best hitter among the Cardinals' pitchers, he also doubled and scored a run.


"He was good, right from the start," said manager Mike Matheny. "You could see he had incredible movement. The ball was running all over the place."


Matheny said he and Garcia had talked in San Diego about the left-hander's difficulties on the road, but Matheny didn't belabor the point.


"It was frustrating to him," said Matheny. "It just didn't make sense, but you can't deny that it was happening."


Matheny's message was, "Don't let these distractions get in the way. There's always distractions."


Garcia said it wasn't that the talk didn't help. But he said, "It's not like that happened and I'm a different guy. I'm the same guy I was in San Diego."


Kozma, filling in for injured shortstop Rafael Furcal (torn elbow ligament), had an extra-base hit for the third game in a row and drove in his fifth run in the last three games by doubling home Descalso on a hit-and-run in the eighth inning. Kozma then scored on center fielder Jon Jay's second run batted in, and he also started a key double play on a slow bouncer.



3B David Freese likely will miss the final game of the Houston series with a sprained right ankle, suffered when he stepped in a soft spot in the visitors' batting cage before Monday's game. "It's coming along all right. Obviously, it's sore. It's going to be a few days," said Freese.

LHP Jaime Garcia won his third game on the road to go with three at home by allowing six singles and no walks on Tuesday. "It was one of my best games of the year when you talk about command," Garcia said. Garcia never had won in Houston and sported a 13.50 ERA in two starts there this year. "I'm not going to lie to you that I didn't think about it," Garcia said. "Every time I come here it hasn't been good. But all I was worried about was giving my team a chance to win."

CF Jon Jay stole his 19th base. No Cardinals player has stolen 20 bases since Cesar Izturis had 24 in 2008.

RHP Chris Carpenter on Wednesday will make his second start after surgery on July 19 to relieve a nerve problem that affected his neck and right shoulder. Carpenter worked five innings of two-run ball on Friday in Chicago.

LF Matt Holliday, one night after reaching the 100-RBI plateau, walked in his first three appearances on Tuesday. But RF Carlos Beltran continued to struggle, fanning twice and, swinging at a 3-0 pitch, hitting into a double play with the bases loaded.

By the Numbers:

1 - Shutouts by Cardinals pitchers on the road this season. Their first came Tuesday night in Houston.

Quote to Note:

"Any team at any time can beat another team."

- Manager Mike Matheny, even after the Cardinals had beaten Houston 4-0 for their 10th straight win over the Astros.


RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) was injured Sept. 8, and he probably is out for the rest of the regular season. He encountered discomfort in a bullpen session Sept. 22 in Chicago and had to stop throwing.

LF Matt Holliday (back) came out of the Sept. 23 game in the ninth inning, but was back in the lineup the next day.

C Yadier Molina (back spasms) did not play Sept. 23 but was back in the lineup the next day.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and was thought to be out for the season, but he said he still wants to try to play.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife, but as of Sept. 19 he still hadn't been able to do any baseball activities.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 4 at Houston 0

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