Truby lifts Astros and keeps Cardinals waiting

The rookie pitcher Chris Truby and the Houston Astros made sure on Tuesday night that the St Louis Cardinals will have to wait at least one more day to celebrate a divisional title.

The rookie pitcher Chris Truby and the Houston Astros made sure on Tuesday night that the St Louis Cardinals will have to wait at least one more day to celebrate a divisional title.

Jeff Bagwell drove in the game-tying run in the ninth inning while Truby hit a three-run homer in the 10th to lift the Astros to an 8-6 victory over the Cardinals. St Louis need one more victory or a Cincinnati defeat to secure the National League Central, which would be their first divisional crown since 1996.

The Cardinals looked on the way to victory when Ray Lankford gave them a 5-4 lead with a run-scoring single off Joe Slusarski in the eighth inning, but Truby kept them from adding key insurance runs with a big defensive play when Edgar Renteria hit a hard ground ball down the third base line. Truby made a backhanded catch, stepped on third base to force out Fernando Tatis then threw Renteria out at first base to end the inning.

St Louis were one out from victory when Bagwell hit a Dave Veres pitch into left field, batting in two base runners to send the game into overtime. With Moises Alou and Bill Spiers on base, Gene Stechschulte came on to pitch and Truby greeted the reliever by smashing his second pitch over left-field fence.

In Atlanta, Javy Lopez drove in three runs in a seven-run second inning as the Braves beat New York Mets 12-4. The Braves' pitcher Andy Ashby allowed only an unearned run over seven innings as Atlanta improved their lead over the Mets in NL East to five games. They now need seven more wins to secure their ninth consecutive divisional title.

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