Bud Norris snapped a lengthy losing streak as he pitched into the eighth inning, and the Houston Astros took a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The loss, combined with wins by the Brewers and Dodgers on Wednesday saw St. Louis' lead for the final wild card spot in the National League fall to 3 1/2 games over both clubs. Los Angeles and Milwaukee also have a game in hand.
Norris (6-13) gave up just two hits and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings to win for the first time since May 21. He was 0-12 in his previous 18 starts.
"That's the Bud that we're hoping (can) be a No. 1 starter," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said.
Jose Altuve hit a solo home run while Brett Wallace also drove in a run for the Astros, who snapped a three-game slide.
Chris Carpenter (0-1), making just his second start of the season, gave up two runs on four hits over six innings. He suffered a right shoulder injury before the start of the season and had made his first start on Sept. 21 against Chicago.
This game stayed scoreless until the fourth inning when Altuve led off the inning with his sixth home run of the season. Scott Moore followed with a double and moved to third on a fly out, but he was nailed at the plate on a Justin Maxwell fielder's choice. Maxwell, though, stole second and made it a 2-0 game when Wallace singled.
Norris retired the first nine batters he faced before Jon Jay doubled to start the fourth. Norris set down the next three batters and did the same in the fifth.
Carpenter singled with one out in the sixth, but was left there and Norris departed the game after getting in trouble in the eighth.
He hit Adron Chambers to start the inning and Daniel Descalso reached base on a Wallace error. After striking out Peter Kozma, Wilton Lopez took the mound and got pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran to hit into a fielder's choice and Jay to ground out.
Lopez pitched around a leadoff single by Matt Carpenter in the ninth to pick up his eighth save of the season.
"When everybody is on, it's one of the best offenses in all of baseball. Nobody can deny it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "But right now we have to find a way to make it happen. There's no doubt that we need the middle of the lineup to produce."
St. Louis had won 10 straight against Houston this season and is now 11-4 on the season against the Astros ... Norris had lost three games to St. Louis during his 18-start winless streak ... Chris Carpenter fell to 8-6 in 20 career starts against the Astros.