The Bottom Line:

— The St. Louis Cardinals (68-56) defeated to the Houston Astros (39-84) on Thursday afternoon by a score of 13
-5. The Pittsburgh Pirates were off on Thursday, so the Cardinals gained another half game in the wild card race, putting themselves one full game ahead of the Pirates.

Jake Westbrook struggled, giving up five earned runs and seven hits over five innings pitched, including a throwing error of his own.

— After falling behind early 4-0, David Freese hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning (17) to pull the Cards within one run. It was the Cardinals’ first home run since August 15.

— With the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning, Matt Holliday hit a bases clearing double to drive in three runners, including Ryan Jackson who recorded his first major league hit earlier in the inning. Holliday later scored off of a Yadier Molina RBI single.

— Barrett Browning, Edward Mujica, Fernando Salas, and Marc Rzepczysnki all pitched scoreless innings to seal the victory for the Cardinals.

This was what the Cardinals needed with the Astros. They went in with the attitude of “we NEED to sweep this team,” and they did. They now have a one game lead in the wild card race and can start to take off. Of course, this weekend will be a challenge as they have to go to Cincinnati and face them at home where the Reds are 41-22 this year. It was nice to see this sort of offensive explosion, though I’m sure the fans at Busch Stadium were more than satisfied and were selfishly hoping the Cardinals would stop hitting so they could get out of the heat. Speaking of which, I’m a pretty adamant believer in the idea that opposing teams often have trouble playing at Busch Stadium because it is so unbearably hot, just like today.

What’s Next: Lance Lynn (13-5) and the Cardinals will travel to Cincinnati to take on Mat Latos (10-3) and the Reds in a three game series that begins Friday night at 6:10PM CST. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest and all pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog.