In a scene reminiscent of last October, Albert Pujols touched up Brad Lidge again to hand Houston a wrenching defeat.
And while Pujols' Cardinals maintained their NL Central lead, Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants made a big move out West.
Pujols broke his bat on a 2 run double off Lidge with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning Tuesday night, giving St. Louis a 6-5 victory over the Astros.
Of course, the two will be linked forever following last year's playoffs.
Houston was 1 out from its first trip to the World Series when Pujols hit a stunning, mammoth homer against Lidge to stave off elimination and send the NL championship series back to St. Louis. The Astros recovered and clinched the pennant in Game 6.
Still, the Cardinals' slugger was unable to explain his success against Lidge.
â€œHe's one of the best guys in the league and he's got good stuff,â€ Pujols said. â€œI'd take him on my team anytime.â€
In San Francisco, Bonds reached base twice during a 6 run 2nd inning and the Giants rallied from a 4 run deficit to beat Colorado 10-6, gaining ground in the division and wild card races.
The surging Giants won for the 7th time in 9 tries to pull within 3 games of 1st place Los Angeles in the NL West. Plus, San Francisco suddenly stands alone in 2nd place in the jumbled wild card chase, just 1 1/2 games behind San Diego.
No wonder shortstop Omar Vizquel glances up at the out of town scoreboard every couple of innings to check on the Dodgers, Padres and other contending teams.
â€œYou're pretty aware of what the other scores are,â€ Vizquel said. â€œIt is kind of exciting to see, and the reaction of the fans. We have to keep an eye on the other teams.â€
In other NL games, it was: Cincinnati 5, San Diego 4 in 11 innings; New York 6, Florida 4; Chicago 9, Los Angeles 8 in 11 innings; and Washington 5, Arizona 4.
Philadelphia's game at Atlanta and Milwaukee's game at Pittsburgh were postponed by rain. Both will be made up as part of doubleheaders on Wednesday.
Vizquel and Pedro Feliz hit 2 run doubles to rally the Giants, and Randy Winn homered. Kevin Correia (2-0) pitched 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out 3.
Chris Iannetta hit his first major league homer for the Rockies, who had their 4 game winning streak snapped, which matched the club's longest run of the season.
At St. Louis, Astros starter Andy Pettitte left in the 3rd inning with a strained elbow, and the Cardinals got to Lidge (1-5) for the third time this season.
The closer, who blew his 6th save in 37 chances, had a blown save and a loss against the Cardinals in the last 2 games before the All-Star break. He is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA and 4 saves against St. Louis this season, allowing 7 runs in 7 innings spanning 6 appearances.
â€œIt seems like stuff like that has happened this year,â€ Lidge said. â€œI was able to get in there and broke his bat, but he was able to put it in a place we couldn't get it.â€
Chris Burke's 2 run homer in the 6th put the Astros ahead 5-4 and Mike Lamb also connected for Houston in a game that featured five lead changes.
Preston Wilson homered for the Cardinals, who have won the first 2 games of a 3 game series against the 3rd place Astros, knocking them 7 games back in the NL Central. St. Louis has a 5 game lead over the Reds.
Lamb's 1st inning homer ended a 20 inning scoreless slump for Houston, which is 4 1/2 games behind wild card leader San Diego.
Braden Looper (9-1) threw 2 scoreless innings for the win.
Reds 5, Padres 4, 11 innings
At Cincinnati, Jason LaRue's 1 out homer off Doug Brocail (2-2) in the 11th powered the Reds and tightened the playoff race. Scott Schoeneweis (1-0) escaped a threat in the 10th to get the win, which moved Cincinnati 2 1/2 games behind San Diego for the wild card. The Reds won for only the 5th time in 16 games.
Mets 6, Marlins 4
At Miami, Carlos Delgado hit a tying, 3 run homer in the 8th, and Cliff Floyd's RBI double put New York ahead to stay.
The Mets trimmed their magic number for winning the NL East to 3. They could clinch their first division title since 1988 on Wednesday with a victory over Florida and an Atlanta sweep in its doubleheader against Philadelphia.
New York's rain delayed victory also eliminated the Braves from the NL East race, ending their record run of 14 straight division titles.
Josh Willingham had 3 hits, including his 24th home run, for the Marlins, who remained 2 games behind San Diego in the wild card race.
Billy Wagner got 3 outs for his 37th save. He struck out Miguel Cabrera with 2 on to end it.
Cubs 9, Dodgers 8, 11 innings
At Chicago, Cesar Izturis singled home the winning run with 2 outs in the 11th against his former team as the Cubs overcame 6 errors and a 7-0 deficit. The 1st place Dodgers stayed 1 1/2 games ahead of San Diego in the NL West.
Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 4
At Phoenix, Alfonso Soriano still needs 1 stolen base to join the exclusive â€œ40-40â€' club after being thrown out by Arizona's Johnny Estrada trying to steal 3rd. Only 3 players, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco, have hit at least 40 home runs and stolen 40 bases in a season.
Arizona's Luis Gonzalez, 39, became the oldest player to hit 50 doubles in a season. Chad Cordero earned his 26th save.