Jon Jay drove in two and Kyle Lohse pitched seven scoreless innings as the St. Louis Cardinals took a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game set.
Daniel Descalso drove in a run and scored for the Cardinals, who have won their past two games to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers for the final wild card spot in the National League. Los Angeles' game in Washington, DC was rained out on Tuesday.
Lohse (15-3) bounced back from his first loss in three months with a four-hit, two-walk outing. He struck out five, drove in a run and scored once in the win.
"You can't take any days off," Lohse said. "We saw last year what happens when you play every game as hard as you can."
Brett Wallace drove in the lone run for the Astros, who took three of four from the Phillies in their previous series. Fernando Abad (0-5) gave up three runs on six hits with six strikeouts over five innings in his fifth straight loss.
The Astros reached 100 losses on the season.
"None of us think about that. We just try to win every day," Houston outfielder Justin Maxwell said of the dubious mark.
The Cardinals took the lead in the second inning when Yadier Molina doubled with one out and came home two batters later on a Descalso single to right- center.
In the fifth, St. Louis added to its lead. With one out, Peter Kozma tripled and scored when Lohse helped his cause with a double. Jay then doubled home Lohse for a 3-0 advantage.
St. Louis made it a 4-0 game in the seventh after Jay's single to right scored Descalso.
Houston had threatened in the top of the seventh as Jed Lowrie and J.D. Martinez both singled with one out and each moved up a base on a Jason Castro fielder's choice. Lohse, though, got Matt Dominguez to fly out to end the inning.
In the eighth, with Mitchell Boggs on the mound, pinch-hitter Jimmy Paredes singled then Jose Altuve followed with a base hit. After Scott Moore flied out, Wallace singled home a run. After a strikeout from Justin Maxwell, Marc Rzepczynski took over for Boggs and got Lowrie to fly out.
Jason Motte pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up 36th save of the season.
St. Louis has won seven of the 10 games against Houston this season ... Lohse moved to 10-8 in 19 career games against the Astros in his career ... Houston batted just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left seven on base.