For St. Louis, the loss marked the end of the season for the team that led the majors with 100 wins. It also was the final game at Busch, scheduled to be demolished by a wrecking ball to make room for the city’s new ballpark. “We were ready to play, but the guy pitched an outstanding game and shut us down,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. After the final out, St. Louis fans stood and applauded, then chanted “Let’s Go Cardinals!” The video board played highlights of great Cardinals players and moments, featuring Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire and even broadcaster Jack Buck. The Astros won this rematch in six games after losing last year in Game 7 at Busch. Thanks to Oswalt, it didn’t go that far this time. “He did what we needed him to do. We absolutely had to have that performance, and he gave it to us. It was tremendous,” Berkman said. Roger Clemens did his part, Andy Pettitte did, too – and Astros stalwarts Biggio and Jeff Bagwell finally fulfilled their dream of winning a pennant together. “I love it. We did it together,” Clemens said during the NL trophy presentation. “These guys deserve that.” In baseball-mad St. Louis, the Busch era ended in bitter disappointment. Swept by Boston in the 2004 World Series and determined to avenge that defeat, the Cardinals were unable to capture a second consecutive pennant. St. Louis is still waiting for its first World Series championship since 1982. Born in 1962 as the Colt .45s, the Astros didn’t make the playoffs until 1980 and didn’t win a postseason series until last year. Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard and Mike Scott highlighted stingy pitching staffs the called the mammoth Astrodome home, but they couldn’t carry Houston to a pennant. Not until Pettitte and Clemens came home to join Oswalt in a stellar rotation did the Astros get over the hump. And on the night it clinched the NLCS, Houston didn’t even need to use Brad Lidge, the All-Star closer who gave up Pujols’ two-out homer in the ninth inning Monday night that sent the series back to St. Louis. Oswalt, who also beat Mark Mulder in Game 2 at Busch Stadium, gave up three hits and struck out six, improving to 4-0 in his postseason career. By closing it out Wednesday night, the Astros gave themselves a choice of Clemens or Pettitte to start Game 1 of the World Series on full rest. The Astros became the first team to win a pennant after dropping 15 games under .500 since 1914 Boston Braves. Now, they’ll take aim at something else: becoming the fourth straight wild-card team to win the championship. Of course, no game in this postseason would be complete without a disputed call by an umpire. With the Cardinals trailing 3-0 in the fifth, Mark Grudzielanek was hit by a pitch and Molina singled for their first hit. Oswalt knocked down Abraham Nunez’s comebacker and threw wide to second, where Adam Everett made a lunging grab and tried to tag Molina, who jumped back in an effort to dodge the shortstop’s glove. Second base ump Greg Gibson initially spread his arms – perhaps signaling safe, perhaps just to show that Everett was off the bag. Then Gibson made two emphatic out calls, apparently ruling that Everett tagged Molina. Replays appeared to show that Everett missed the tag, and La Russa argued briefly to no avail. During an in-game TV interview, La Russa said the umpire told him there had been a tag. “We called it a tag. He was not called out for being out of baseline,” crew chief Tim McClelland said after the game. “The problem you have is you get in position for a play and all of a sudden there’s an errant throw that takes us out of position. “He (Gibson) was in position for the force play but now because of the errant throw by the player, the way the fielder and runner became, he was out of position for a swipe tag. He made the call best he could.” McClelland said Gibson did not ask for help, but another umpire would have come forward if he had a view that clearly showed the call was wrong. Instead of having the bases loaded with none out, the Cardinals had runners at the corners with one out. Pinch-hitter John Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly and Eckstein struck out, ending the inning. Astros manager Phil Garner took a page out of La Russa’s playbook in the sixth, when Everett’s suicide squeeze made it 4-1. Morgan Ensberg added a two-out RBI single in the seventh. Oswalt advanced two runners with a sacrifice bunt in the third, though St. Louis passed up a chance to cut down the lead runner at third. Mulder’s wild pitch behind Biggio gave Houston the lead, and Biggio’s RBI single made it 2-0. “Once we got a two-run lead, I knew I could go right at ’em,” Oswalt said. Lane connected for a solo shot in the fourth, prompting the Cardinals to get their bullpen up. Mulder, who entered with a 1.91 ERA in six previous postseason starts, allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. Pujols drew an earsplitting standing ovation before his first at-bat, and flashbulbs popped on every pitch to him as the crowd chanted “MVP! MVP!” After striking out, he got another huge hand. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “It’s been a long time, you know. I’m not greedy, I’m not selfish, just wanted go one time,” Biggio said. “I can’t tell you how happy I am. It took us a long time, and we’ve got 5 million people in Houston who are very pumped up right now.” Cameras flashed all over Busch Stadium as Dan Wheeler got Yadier Molina on a fly ball for the final out. NL champions for the first time in their 44-season history, the Astros rushed to the mound to celebrate, bouncing in unison before heading to the clubhouse for what was sure to be a more raucous party. Houston was 0-5 with a chance to clinch the NLCS. This time, the Astros would not be denied. “It’s unbelievable, I can’t even describe it,” Lance Berkman said. “To be a big part of bringing the World Series – the first World Series ever – to Houston is just tremendous.” Coming off a crushing loss in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series at home on Albert Pujols’ stunning homer, the stubborn Astros refused to be shaken. They jumped to an early lead behind Biggio and Jason Lane, got perhaps a little help from the umpires and watched Oswalt shut down St. Louis for seven innings in earning the series MVP award. Now that this wild-card team has its first NL pennant, the Astros will travel to Chicago to take on the American League champion White Sox in the World Series, which begins Saturday night. ST. LOUIS – On this wild night of celebration, the Houston Astros owed it all to Roy Oswalt. He took their dreams, hopes and gritty resolve and pitched his teammates into their first World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 Wednesday night with help from Craig Biggio.