It took a fortunate wild pitch to do it. But the Cardinals on Wednesday solved the mystery of Bud Norris to beat the Astros and move back into the playoff picture.
Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when former Redbirds farmhand Brett Wallace hit a solo homer run. The Cardinals tied the game in the second on a Daniel Descalso double that plated Allen Craig. But the Astros regained the lead on a solo shot by Chris Snyder.
In the bottom of the fifth, Rafael led of with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice by starting pitcher Kyle Lohse. Jon Jay singled to score Furcal to tie the game. Then he went to third on a Matt Carpenter ground out. Norris then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Jay to score what proved to be the winning run.
Lohse threw seven innings and allowed only three hits and two runs on the two solo homers. It was an impressive performance for a guy who apparently felt somewhat jilted by the fact that the Cardinals signed fellow starter Jake Westbrook yesterday to a contract extension, likely pushing him out the door for 2013 and beyond. Instead of pouting, Lohse padded his resume by improving to 13-2 on the season with a 2.61 ERA and a fantastic 1.08 average of walks and hits allowed per inning.
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Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 on the night and is suddenly hitting the ball very hard again. In addition to his two doubles off the right and left field walls, he narrowly missed a home run to left center.
The Birds passed the Pirates to lay claim to the second wildcard spot -- at least part of it, pending the outcome of the game between the Dodgers and the Giants -- as Pittsburgh lost to San Diego.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Lohse
Cardinals Play of the Game: Jay's fifth inning single tied the game -- and then put the eventual winning run on base. He also made a very nice catch at the centerfield wall to help preserve the lead.
Lowlight: Matt Carpenter, batting second and playing third base to give slumping infielder David Freese a breather, was hitless in four at bats.