Cards continue playoff push against Astros

The St. Louis Cardinals didn't let the Houston Astros spoil the opener of their series at Busch Stadium and handed the worst team in the major leagues its 100th loss of the season.

The defending World Series champions will have that same philosophy tonight in the continuation of a three-game set and shoot for a third win in a row.

Kyle Lohse made sure the Astros didn't break out the bats in Tuesday's 4-1 win and pitched seven scoreless innings for his 15th victory (15-3). Lohse scattered four hits, struck out five and allowed two walks, before Mitchell Boggs, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte went the rest of the way. Motte delivered a scoreless ninth inning for his 36th save.

"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."

Jon Jay had two hits and two runs batted in, while Lohse and Daniel Descalso were each credited with an RBI for St. Louis, winners in three of five games.

The Cardinals have a 1 1/2-game lead over Los Angeles for the last of two wild card spots in the National League, and will give the ball to Lance Lynn this evening. Lynn will make his second straight start since coming out of the bullpen in his six previous appearances, and has won two straight trips to the hill. Lynn struck out seven and allowed one run in six innings of a 2-1 win over the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine last Thursday, and improved to 15-7 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 games (26 starts).

Lynn, who opened the season in the rotation while Chris Carpenter was sidelined with a shoulder problem, defeated the Astros back on June 7 in a 14-2 blowout and struck out 11 batters through six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career games (2 starts) against Houston.

Houston entered this series opener on a roll, having won three of four and six of 10 games, but suffered its 100th loss of the season.

"None of us think about that. We just try to win every day," Houston outfielder Justin Maxwell said of reaching the century mark in losses.

Fernando Abad was dealt the loss and dropped to 0-5 after allowing three runs and six hits in five innings. Brett Wallace drove in the lone run for the Astros, who took three of four from the Phillies in their previous series.

The Astros will turn to Lucas Harrell tonight and he is 0-1 in his last five starts with four straight no-decisions. In a 6-4 win over Philadelphia last Thursday, Harrell was reached for four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Harrell, a right-hander, is 10-9 in 29 starts with a 3.86 earned run average. He lost to the Cardinals on Aug. 21, when he permitted six runs in five innings of a 7-0 defeat, and is 2-1 with a lofty 6.23 ERA in four career games (3 starts) against them.

St. Louis has won seven of 10 matchups with Houston this season, including the previous six meetings between the NL Central foes. The Cardinals were 10-5 in this series a year ago.