SAN DIEGO – The St. Louis Cardinals (search), baseball's best team in the regular season, brushed aside the San Diego Padres (search), winning 7-to-4 for a three-game sweep of their first-round playoff series.
Reggie Sanders (search) drove in two more runs to set an N-L division series record with ten R-B-I's. David Eckstein (search) hit his first career postseason homer as the Cardinals chased former teammate Woody Williams before he could get out of the second inning.
Right-hander Matt Morris pitched six strong innings for the win. With two on in the bottom of the ninth, Jason Isringhausen struck out Brian Giles and retired Ryan Klesko on a comebacker to seal the victory.
The Padres were one of the most mediocre teams to make it to the postseason, finishing with an 82-and-80 record to win the N-L West before being swept.
The Cardinals made it to the World Series (search) last year before flopping in a four-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox. St. Louis advances to the N-L championship series for the fourth time in six years.
The Cards will have home-field advantage against the winner of the Houston-Atlanta series. The N-L-C-S starts Wednesday at Busch Stadium.
NLDS: Astros 7 Braves 3
HOUSTON -- Roy Oswalt pitched Houston past the Atlanta Braves (search) 7-to-3 as the Astros take a 2-to-1 lead in their best-of-five series.
Houston can advance to its second consecutive N-L championship series with a victory at home Sunday. Brandon Backe (search) will pitch for the Astros. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox (search) has not announced his starter yet. He says he might bring Tim Hudson back on three days' rest.
Mike Lamb hit a tiebreaking homer in the third for the Astros, who are one victory from eliminating the Braves in the division series for the second year in a row.
Craig Biggio hit three doubles and scored twice. Morgan Ensberg had a pair of R-B-I doubles.
Losing pitcher Jorge Sosa, a reliever-turned-starter, gave up three runs and seven hits over six innings in his first postseason appearance.
By the time Oswalt left to a loud standing ovation with one out in the eighth, the Astros led 7-to-2. Oswalt allowed just six hits and three runs in seven and a-third innings. Andruw Jones hit an R-B-I double off reliever Dan Wheeler, but that was all the Braves got. Brad Lidge closed it out in the ninth.
Atlanta has won 14 straight division titles, but hasn't made it past the first round of the playoffs since 2001.
Game Four is Sunday afternoon. NLDS: Cardinals 7 Padres 4