The Bottom Line:

— The St. Louis Cardinals (80-70) won their fourth straight game on Thursday afternoon by defeating and sweeping the Houston Astros by a score of 5-4. They move to 2.5 game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second slot in the National League wild card.

Jaime Garcia gave up three earned runs over six innings, while allowing six hits and two walks. He struck out six batters and left with a no decision.

Allen Craig smashed a three run home run (22) in the first inning to give the Cards a quick 3-1 lead.

— In the sixth inning, Carlos Beltran hit a 2-RBI double to give the Cardinals a 5-3 lead.

Edward Mujica got out of a huge jam in the seventh when the Astros had bases loaded and one out, but JD Martinex grounded into a double play.  Mujicas ERA is now .86 as a St. Louis Cardinal.

Jason Motte pitched in his fifth straight game and earned his 38th save on the season. His ERA is now at 2.95.

This series was exactly everything the Cards could have hoped for. I said a few days ago that in their last 15 games, they will probably have to win at least 9-10 games. Thankfully they’ve gotten off to a 3-0 start and are now going up north to Chicago to face another extremely weak division-rival. Everyone in the Cardinals dugout seemed a little more relaxed today. They’ve been more patient at the plate and are getting key hits.

Their defense is still something of a concern for me. David Freese made another error today and quite frankly has showed a lack of range all season long. Defense is a very undervalued and can really make a huge impact in a game. While I think their rotation and lineup are very solid, their defense is something that could really hold them back from going deep in the postseason.

What’s Next: The Cardinals go north to Chicago to start a three game series with the Chicago Cubs. First pitch on Friday afternoon will be at 1:20 PM CST and can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest. As always, all pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog. Go Cards.