St. Louis and Houston concluded their final series meeting of the season Sunday night and their third series of the year at Minute Maid Park.
The defending National League Central Division Champions, the St. Louis Cardinals have dropped five straight games to the Astros, falling two games behind (7-9) in the season series.
The Cardinals return to Baseball Heaven, a/k/a Busch Stadium III, with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Astros, and take on the San Diego Padres for a three game set and wrap up the regular season with a four game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Astros keeping their slim playoff hopes alive, take to the road for their final seven game of the season, with a stop over in Philly for one game to play the Phillies on Monday, before facing the Pittsburgh Pirates for three games and finishing the regular season in Atlanta, taking on the Braves in a three game series as well.
Since the All-Star break the Cardinals have now lost five-straight road series since taking 2-of-3 at Wrigley Field, August 18-20.
A 3.5 game lead in the final week of the season is normally a lot of ground to make up with just seven games left. Considering the Cardinals will send Jeff Suppan and National League Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter to the mound Monday and Tuesday, respectively, the odds are still against the Astros.
The Cardinals can ill afford a sweep from the San Diego Padres, a solid road team this season with a 40-34 record and coming into St. Louis on a four game winning streak and having won seven of their last ten games.
The Brewers who will follow the Padres into St. Louis are currently riding a five game winning streak and have also won seven of their last 10 games.
Meanwhile, Houston is on the road for the final week and they have a less than impressive road record of 33-41.
The Cardinals find themselves on unfamiliar ground, trying to clinch a division title, in the final week of the season, due in a large part because they have won 50-plus road games each of the past two seasons.
The Cardinals will need to put together a decent final week against two of the hottest teams in the National League over the last 10 days or they will find themselves watching the scoreboard, hoping somebody is beating up on the Astros, something they couldn't do over the weekend.