But, the Astros came back in the top of the ninth against Braves closer Bob Wickman to retake the lead, 5-2. The second error of the inning was committed by former Cardinals shortstop Edgar Renteria, who threw away a potential double play grounder, allowing the final two runs to score.
With an Atlanta runner on third base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Astros reliever Brad Lidge was pulled by Manager Phil Garner in favor of Dan Wheeler. Lidge was visibly upset at the move.
Wheeler was shaky, allowing a pair of RBI singles to bring the game within one, with the potential winning run at the plate. But, the reliever ultimately secured the final out and the save, allowing his team to barely survive another day.
As a result of the Astros' win, the St. Louis Cardinals did not clinch the 2006 National League Central Division Championship. Their magic number remains one. Either a Cardinals win over the Brewers or a Braves win over Houston on Sunday will give the crown to St. Louis.
Given Houston's win, Sunday's originally-scheduled starter, Chris Carpenter, is expected to pitch for the Cardinals against Milwaukee as planned, though those plans could change. Had the Braves won on Saturday night, Carpenter would have certainly been held until Game One of the National League Division Series.
If the Cardinals lose and the Astros win on Sunday, the Cardinals will be forced to make up a rained-out home game against the San Francisco Giants, originally scheduled to have been held on Sunday, September 17.
The tentative pitching match-up if Monday's game will be required is Anthony Reyes for the Cardinals against former Cardinal Matt Morris. The game will be played starting at 2:05 p.m. at Busch Stadium.
If the Cardinals make the NLDS, their opponent is yet to be determined. But, it would be either the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Diego Padres. Since both won Saturday, the Philadelphia Phillies were eliminated from the NL Wild Card race.
If the season would have ended today, the Cardinals would meet the Padres with Game One starting on Tuesday in San Diego. Games Three and Four, if needed in the best of five series will be held in St. Louis next Saturday and Sunday.
Game Matchup Day Date Time(ET) TV Gm 1 STL @ SD Tue Oct. 3 4:05 ESPN Gm 2 STL @ SD Thu Oct. 5 4:05 ESPN Gm 3 SD @ STL Sat Oct. 7 4:35 FOX Gm 4* SD @ STL Sun Oct. 8 TBA TBA Gm 5* STL @ SD Mon Oct. 9 4 OR 8 FOX * - if necessary
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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