The Houston Astros have been relegated to playing spoiler and look to give the St. Louis Cardinals fits when the two clubs open a three- game series Tuesday at Busch Stadium.
The Astros threw a wrench in Philadelphia's playoff hopes by taking three of four matchups from the Phillies over the weekend at Minute Maid Park, and can do the same against a Cardinals team with a one-game lead over Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the National League.
Houston took the series with Philadelphia thanks to a 7-6 win Sunday afternoon, as Justin Maxwell stroked a two-run double and Matt Dominguez plated a pair of runners with a single in the decisive seventh inning. Scott Moore and Carlos Corporan both homered for the Astros, who have won six of their last 10 games.
"The clubhouse has a new energy," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "The guys don't quit."
Wesley Wright earned the win in relief of starter Jordan Lyles, who gave up four runs on five hits and walked four in five innings.
Houston, which went 4-3 on its homestand, will send Fernando Abad to the mound Tuesday and he is 0-4 with a 5.08 earned run average in 34 games (4 starts) this season. He has lost his four outings and is coming off Wednesday's 5-1 setback to the Chicago Cubs in which he yielded one run in 3 1/3 frames.
Abad will make his first career start against the Cardinals and is 0-1 with a 10.38 ERA in five relief appearances in this series.
St. Louis just went 2-5 on its recent road trip and split a four-game series against the Dodgers with Sunday's 5-2 win in 12 innings.
Jon Jay had an RBI double, Allen Craig stroked a run-scoring single and Yadier Molina drew a bases-loaded walk to score another run in the top of the 12th. Shelby Miller was credited with the win and tossed a scoreless inning of relief and Jason Motte posted his 35th save in the 12th.
"We needed someone to step up, and Jon Jay came through with one of our biggest hits of the year," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Adam Wainwright started and was reached for two runs in six innings. Craig has hit safely in 10 straight games.
Kyle Lohse will try and get back into the win column when he toes the rubber Tuesday for the Cardinals, who also sit 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee and Pittsburgh in the wild card standings.
Lohse allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in six innings of Wednesday's 3-2 loss at San Diego. He is 14-3 with a 2.81 earned run average in 30 starts this season and 9-8 with a 2.91 ERA in 18 career games (17 starts) against the Astros.
The right-hander will try to win 15 games in a season for only the second time in his career (15-6, 2008).
St. Louis has won six of nine matchups with Houston this season, including the previous five meetings between the NL Central foes. The Cardinals were 10-5 in this series a year ago.