Pinch hitter Aaron Miles solved Houston closer Brad Lidge for the second game in a row Sunday, doubling home two runs in the 12th inning to lift St. Louis to a 7-5 win. He singled Saturday -- also with two strikes -- to tie the game off Lidge in the ninth inning. The Cardinals won that game in 10 innings, 7-6.
It isn't as if Miles had been a RBI machine this year. The second baseman had driven in just 17 runs in his first 229 at-bats, but he is a pesky two-strike hitter.
Manager Tony La Russa got his wish of having the team finish the first half nine games over .500 after the Cardinals had fallen to six over before they won the last three games against the reeling Astros.
After stumbling to 13 losses in 16 games, the Cardinals have won four of their last six and have the second-biggest cushion of any division leader in baseball (four games).
Josh Hancock hadn't been called on to save a game this year, but he went through a 1-2-3 bottom of the 12th inning. Braden Looper pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out spot in the 10th.
REPLAY: On Saturday, David Eckstein kept alive a game-tying rally against Houston closer Brad Lidge by drawing a two-out walk in the ninth. On Sunday, he took a Lidge fastball in the back to start the winning rally in the 12th.
So Taguchi singled Eckstein to second, and after Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen failed, the runners moved up on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter Aaron Miles bounced a double just inside the third base line to break a 5-5 tie, and the Cardinals took a 7-5 victory.
--3B Scott Rolen had just one hit in five at-bats Sunday, but it was a three-run homer off Houston RHP Dan Wheeler in the eighth inning.
--RHP Chris Carpenter pitched into the ninth inning for the first time this year but came out after allowing a leadoff single to LF Preston Wilson. He allowed five runs (three earned) in eight-plus innings.
--RHP Jason Isringhausen, not sharp as he worked for the third day in succession, blew his seventh save in 33 opportunities as he allowed a single and a sacrifice fly to let an inherited runner score.
--LHP Mark Mulder, on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement, threw on Saturday and will see Dr. George Paletta during the All-Star break. But manager Tony La Russa said, "Until we know what he can do, it's ridiculous to try to put a time on it."
--RHP Jeff Weaver is slated to make his first start for the Cardinals in St. Louis against Atlanta on July 17. "You can't ask for a better situation," he said of his new address.