ST. LOUIS -- Reggie Sanders continued his hot streak Wednesday, lifting the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run homer. St. Louis would not relinquish that lead, going on to seal a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Astros.
Sanders set an NL Division Series record with 10 RBIs in the Cardinals' series with San Diego and has an RBI in each of his last 10 games.
The rest of the way Thursday, the Cardinals relied on timely hitting, solid defense and a great pitching performance by Chris Carpenter.
Behind the numbers
Sanders came into the 2005 playoffs with just 13 RBIs in 56 postseason games, and now has 12 in four games.
A look at key statistics through Game 1 of the NLCS
||Down from their 3.67 ERA in the NLDS
||Up just a tad from their .284 average against San Diego
||Down a bit from the seven runs per game they averaged in the first round of the playoffs. However, with the Cardinals pitching, five runs should be enough to win any night.
||One error by shortstop David Eckstein in the ninth inning eventually led to one more run being scored
||Batting .500, went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI
||The type of sprinkled numbers Eckstein has put up all season
||0-for-3: Pop out, ground out, fly out and a walk
||Not the type of numbers Cardinals fans have come to expect from Edmonds in the postseason
With runners on first and third for the Astros and just one out in the fourth inning, Adam Everett zipped a ground ball right at third baseman Abraham Nunez. Nunez speared the ball and threw out Morgan Ensberg at home plate for the second out of the inning. The Astros did not score in that inning.
With one out in the ninth inning and Mike Lamb on first base, Eckstein made a hard stop on a ground ball in the infield hit by Jason Lane. Instead of holding the ball, Eckstein got up and tried to throw Lamb out at second base, while his momentum was carrying him backwards. The throw went wide of second baseman Mark Grudzielanek and the two runners advanced. Lamb ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Brad Ausmus in the next at-bat.
The Cardinals have won nine straight NLCS and NLDS games at Busch Stadium. In 2004, they won two games against Los Angeles and all four against Houston. This year they won two at home against San Diego and opened the 2005 NLCS with a win at home over the Astros.
When asked, "What are you feeding Reggie Sanders?" by a reporter, Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa responded:
"Whoever is feeding him, I'm going to talk to [his wife] Wyndee and make sure it's that same breakfast and lunch that he's been having, because what a lift he's given us, four straight games now. He's been so clutch against good pitching, really good pitching."
Stephen A. Norris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.