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Astros hold Phils at bay by rallying to defeat Cards

St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein leaps and delivers a throw over a sliding Morgan Ensberg Wednesday.
St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein leaps and delivers a throw over a sliding Morgan Ensberg Wednesday.
Tom Gannam, Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Morgan Ensberg's tiebreaking double in the ninth inning, his fourth hit of the game, gave Houston a 7-6 victory over St. Louis on Wednesday night and maintain the Astros' 2 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race.

With the score 6-6, Willy Taveras led off the ninth with his major league-leading 69th infield hit. He scored without a play on Ensberg's double into the left-field corner off Jason Isringhausen (1-2).

Houston swept a two-game series against the NL Central champions, finishing the season 5-11 against St. Louis.

Philadelphia beat New York 16-6 on Wednesday.

Lance Berkman and Mike Lamb homered for the Astros (87-71), who are a season-best 16 games above .500. Chad Qualls (6-4) worked a perfect eighth, and Brad Lidge finished for his 40th save.

PHILLIES 16, METS 6: At Philadelphia, Chase Utley hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs, and David Bell and Kenny Lofton each had four hits to keep Philadelphia's postseason hopes alive.

The Phillies avoided a three-game sweep and remained 2 1/2 games behind the Astros, who beat St. Louis 7-6.

Jimmy Rollins extended his club-record hitting streak to 33 games with a leadoff single, and Shane Victorino and Pat Burrell each homered during a seven-run eighth inning. Utley drove in two runs in the eighth to give him 101 RBIs, and the Phillies had a season-high 20 hits.

PIRATES 3, CUBS 2: At Chicago, rookie Nate McLouth homered for the third straight day to lead Pittsburgh.

The Cubs finished the season 38-43 at Wrigley Field.

Paul Maholm (3-1), in his sixth major league start, outpitched Mark Prior (11-7), who lost to Pittsburgh for the first time in his career. Maholm gave up two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

McLouth's fourth homer of the season, a solo shot, gave Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead in the fifth against Prior. Dropping to 6-1 in 11 starts against the Pirates. Prior allowed three runs — one earned — and six hits in five innings.

ROCKIES 10, BRAVES 5: At Atlanta, Colorado's Clint Barmes drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run double in the sixth.

Fourteen rookies started for the Braves and Rockies, including the starting pitchers for both. It was the most rookies to start a major league game since Sept. 24, 2003, when 14 started for Cleveland and Minnesota.

Jeff Francis (14-12) gave up seven hits and four runs, three earned, in five innings for Colorado.

Kyle Davies (7-5) gave up seven hits and five runs, two earned, in 5 2/3 innings for the Braves, who clinched the NL East on Tuesday.

NATIONALS 11, MARLINS 7: At Miami, Preston Wilson homered and had five RBIs and Nick Johnson added a home run and four RBIs as Washington swept the three-game series.

Miguel Cabrera had three hits, including his 33rd homer, and four RBIs for the Marlins, who lost their season-high sixth straight and 12th in 14. Rookie Jeremy Hermida also had three hits, including his second home run.

Esteban Loaiza (12-10) allowed six runs and 10 hits in six innings.

Brian Moehler (6-12) allowed seven runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings. He has lost six straight decisions and hasn't won since July 20.

REDS 11, BREWERS 4: At Milwaukee, Adam Dunn hit his 39th home run and Felipe Lopez drove in three runs to lead Cincinnati.

Chris Capuano (18-11) pitched five innings, giving up six runs and eight hits. It was the second straight game he allowed six runs, although he was able to get the win over St. Louis on Sept. 23. He was trying to become the first Brewer to win 19 games since Teddy Higuera won 20 games in 1987.

DIAMONDBACKS 4, DODGERS 3: At Los Angeles, Luis Gonzalez hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning as Arizona beat Los Angeles for their seventh win in eight games.