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Freese later scored on Schumaker’s groundout to shortstop Clint Barmes for a 7-0 lead, equaling the most runs given up by Myers in 33 starts this season. Wilton Lopez replaced Myers for the start of the sixth.

As the Astros batted in the seventh, the left-field scoreboard posted a 3-3 tie in the Phillies-Braves game, prompting a roar from the large contingent of Cardinals‘ fans in the stands behind the St. Louis dugout.

Carpenter then struck out Bogusevic and Jimmy Paredes to wrap up another easy inning. Allen Craig hit a solo homer in the ninth off Lance Pendleton.

The Cardinals huddled around a television in the clubhouse cafeteria after their victory.

Only three weeks ago, the Cardinals had virtually lost all hope.

“There was absolute doubt from us,” Punto said. “I remember early on in September, we were like, ‘Let’s just finish up strong for the fans. Let’s give them something to come out and watch.’

“When you’re 10½ games out, that’s a hole you can’t climb out of,” he said, “unless you get a lot of help.”

The Cardinals were loose and relaxed — and confident — before the game.

Champagne was ordered for a potential postgame celebration and someone wrote, “Happy Flight! After Game” on a marker board in the clubhouse.

NOTES: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said LF Matt Holliday (right hand injury) and SS Rafael Furcal (left hamstring) were unavailable on Wednesday night. … Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan rejoined the team after missing more than a month to tend to his ailing wife. Jeanine Duncan is recovering from surgery on Aug. 21 to remove a brain tumor. Dave Duncan, La Russa’s trusted assistant since the early 1980s, did not know how long he would be able to stay with the club because his wife has more medical appointments scheduled. … The sparse crowd offered a standing ovation to Astros owner Drayton McLane after a video tribute was shown on the giant scoreboard between the second and third innings. McLane is still waiting for Major League Baseball to approve his sale of the team to Houston businessman Jim Crane for $680 million. General manager Ed Wade said before Wednesday’s game that McLane still has the final say on all baseball decisions.