Houston has no problem vs. St. Louis
Lidge earned his third save of the series, Jason Lane homered and Willy Taveras made a saving catch on the center-field hill. Houston took advantage of a critical error by pitcher Jason Marquis plus the ejections of St. Louis manager Tony La Russa and star Jim Edmonds to build a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. “This game, there’s some real great things about it and there’s some things that absolutely stink,” La Russa said, declining to talk specifically about the umpires. Any postseason ejection is rare, and the last time a team lost two members came in 1998 when Cleveland pitcher Dwight Gooden and manager Mike Hargrove were tossed. A security guard in front of the umpires’ room at Minute Maid park said they would not be available for comment. The Astros can close it out at home tonight, with Andy Pettitte on the mound against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. Houston has come this far before the Astros were one victory from the Fall Classic in 1980 and 2004, but are 0-4 overall with a chance to win the NLCS. HOUSTON — Poised as can be no matter how tough the task, Astros closer Brad Lidge pulled off another great escape against St. Louis. Now it’s the steaming-mad Cardinals who are in a serious jam in the NL championship series. Defensive replacement Eric Bruntlett started a game-ending double play, Lidge wriggled out of a major mess in the ninth inning and Houston scratched out a 2-1 victory Sunday in Game 4 to move within one win of its first trip to the World Series. “For us, it’s the best one out of three right now. It doesn’t get any easier,” manager Phil Garner said. “We’re in good position in terms of our pitching, our players and everything. But the job’s still got to get done.” St. Louis has quite an uphill climb if it wants to win its second consecutive pennant. The Cardinals must face Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens in the next three games if they can push it that far. “They’ve got their three guys and we’ve got to find a way,” St. Louis’ David Eckstein said. “This club is very tough, very resilient, and we’re going to be tested.” There is some hope: St. Louis won three consecutive games started by Pettitte, Oswalt and Clemens from July 15-17 at Busch Stadium. And the Cardinals, who have lost three straight, did not have a four-game skid all season. Once again in this postseason, the umpires were in the middle of all the action. The Cardinals were angry about Phil Cuzzi’s liberal strike zone all afternoon, and La Russa and Edmonds were ejected in the late innings for arguing balls and strikes. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!