Cards miss chance to clinch in 3-0 loss

HOUSTON (AP) - Bud Norris and the Houston Astros put the St. Louis Cardinals' celebration on ice.

The Astros' 24-year-old rookie shut out the Cardinals for the second time and St. Louis missed a chance to capture the NL Central in a 3-0 loss to the Astros on Wednesday night.

The magic number for St. Louis dropped to one when the Cubs lost in Milwaukee before this game ended. But Norris (6-3) pitched six shutout innings and Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth for his 28th save.

The Cardinals had 25 cases of champagne waiting in the clubhouse, but the bottles will remain corked for at least another day.

St. Louis can clinch on their day off Thursday if the Cubs lose the opener of a weekend series in San Francisco.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.