The Cardinals magic number is down to five. The only problem with that is their magic number has been five since the middle of last week. Houston did its job of not letting the Cardinals inch closer to clinching the National League Central by sweeping St. Louis in four games at Minute Maid Park.

Roger Clemens was solid through his five innings of work, holding the Redbirds to one run on four hits and striking out six. He left the game with a 3-1 lead after Brad Ausmus put the Astros on top with a two-RBI double in the fourth and Lance Berkman’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.

St. Louis eventually scored runs in the sixth and seventh to tie the score at 3-3, leaving Clemens with a no-decision. But newcomer Aubrey Huff blasted a three-run homer off Randy Flores in the seventh giving the ‘Stros a 7-4 lead that would stand up to be the final score.

Chad Qualls got credit for the win tossing 1.1 perfect innings and striking out two batters.

Josh Hancock was saddled with the loss after giving up two runs on two hits and not recording any outs.

The sweep brings Houston within 3.5 games of the first-place Cardinals. St. Louis has seven games remaining (San Diego and Milwaukee). If there aren’t any playoff implications riding on a single game, the Cardinals won’t make up their Sept 17 game against the Giants that was rained out.