A Roy-al pennant victory

first_imgST. LOUIS — Call him Roy Wonder, the 20-game winner in the same rotation with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and the one who finally pitched the Houston Astros into the World Series. While Roy Oswalt usually prefers to be out of the spotlight, he is the toast of Houston and the MVP of the NL championship series after allowing one run in seven innings Wednesday night in a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that sent the Astros to the first World Series in their 44-season history. “He was on tonight, and we’ve seen it many times, no-hit stuff early,” Clemens said. “What we saw tonight is what I’ve been witnessing for two years. The guy’s won 20 games twice and they talk about him going unnoticed. He’s not unnoticed around here.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “Yeah, I would classify it as one of the biggest games,” Oswalt said. “Just because of the history of the team, of not being in the World Series after so many years and getting so close.” Clemens and Pettitte are going to the World Series again, the former New York Yankees going this time with their hometown team. With Oswalt wrapping up the NLCS, they will pitch the first two World Series games on the road against the Chicago White Sox this weekend. And Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, teammates in Houston for 15 seasons, finally made it to the World Series for the first time. The Astros missed a chance to clinch the NL pennant at home Monday night when Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning off closer Brad Lidge to give the Cardinals a 5-4 victory. So Houston celebrated instead after the last game at Busch Stadium, which is four seasons younger than the Astros franchise. Oswalt threw 77 of his season-high 118 pitches for strikes, and allowed just three hits in the Game 6 clincher. Photo gallery: Astros vs Cardinals center_img Oswalt is 4-0 in seven career playoff games (six starts), including Game 5 of the NL division series in Atlanta last October when he won to give the Astros their first postseason series victory ever. Oswalt, who also beat the Cardinals in Game 2 of this series, made sure they didn’t have to worry about a Game 7 this year in St. Louis. “It ranks right up there with winning the gold medal,” said Oswalt, who pitched for the United States at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “The way he went about his business gave us great confidence,” manager Phil Garner said. “He went after them, he challenged them.” The Cardinals didn’t get a hit until the fifth inning off Oswalt, when Yadier Molina singled before being out at second base on a disputed call. After Oswalt scrambled to get Abraham Nunez’s comebacker, he threw wildly to second, and shortstop Adam Everett caught the ball, making a sweeping tag at Molina. Umpire Greg Gibson called him out, though replays appeared to show Everett missed the tag. Pinch-hitter John Rodriguez then hit a sacrifice fly to score Mark Grudzielanek, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. That was all the Cardinals got. The Astros, who were 0-5 in potential NLCS clinchers, became the only team to avenge an NLCS loss the following season. Oswalt has 59 regular-season wins over the past three years, and this year became the first pitcher since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in 2001-02 with consecutive 20-win seasons. Now, he has won the biggest game in Astros’ franchise history for now. NOTES: Busch Stadium hosted its last game. Forty seasons of baseball came to an end at the concrete relic when the Cardinals lost. Demolition will begin within days as crews make way for completion of the new Busch Stadium, being built next to the old ballpark. The Cards went 1,760-1,409 in the regular season at Busch and 35-18 in the postseason. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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