2004 National League Championship Series
|Dates:||October 13 – 21|
|MVP:||Albert Pujols (St. Louis)|
|TV announcers:||Thom Brennaman, Steve Lyons and Bob Brenly|
|Radio announcers:||Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell|
|Umpires:||Tim Welke, Eric Cooper, Gary Darling, Mike Winters, Angel Hernandez, Ed Rapuano|
|NLDS:||St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Dodgers (3–1)|
|Houston Astros over Atlanta Braves (3–2)|
|2004 World Series|
The 2004 National League Championship Series (NLCS) was a Major League Baseball playoff series played from October 13 to 21 to determine the champion of the National League, between the Central Division champion St. Louis Cardinals and the wild-card qualifying Houston Astros. This marked the first time in either Major League that two teams from the Central Division met in a Championship Series.
In a series in which all seven games were won by the home team, the Cardinals won 4–3 to advance to the World Series against the American League champion Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox reached their first World Series since 1986, with the Cardinals playing in their first since 1987. While the NLCS was an exciting back-and-forth series, it was overshadowed in media attention by Boston's comeback in the ALCS.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros
St. Louis won the series, 4–3.
|1||October 13||Houston Astros – 7, St. Louis Cardinals – 10||Busch Stadium (II)||3:15||52,323|
|2||October 14||Houston Astros – 4, St. Louis Cardinals – 6||Busch Stadium (II)||3:02||52,347|
|3||October 16||St. Louis Cardinals – 2, Houston Astros – 5||Minute Maid Park||2:57||42,896|
|4||October 17||St. Louis Cardinals – 5, Houston Astros – 6||Minute Maid Park||3:01||42,760|
|5||October 18||St. Louis Cardinals – 0, Houston Astros – 3||Minute Maid Park||2:33||43,045|
|6||October 20||Houston Astros – 4, St. Louis Cardinals – 6 (12 innings)||Busch Stadium (II)||3:54||52,144|
|7||October 21||Houston Astros – 2, St. Louis Cardinals – 5||Busch Stadium (II)||2:51||52,140|
|WP: Woody Williams (1–0) LP: Chad Qualls (0–1) Sv: Jason Isringhausen (1)
HOU: Carlos Beltrán (1), Jeff Kent (1), Lance Berkman (1), Mike Lamb (1)
STL: Albert Pujols (1)
The series opener at St. Louis' Busch Stadium was a slugfest involving four homers, 17 runs, and 22 hits, eventually won by St. Louis, 10–7. Houston struck the first blow of the series when Carlos Beltrán hit a two-run home run in the top of the first inning. The Cardinals answered with a home run by Albert Pujols in the bottom half, tying the game at two. Houston took a 4–2 lead in the fourth inning on a two-run blast by Jeff Kent, but the Cards tied it again in the fifth on Larry Walker's double and Scott Rolen's single. In the sixth, the Cardinals broke the game open, scoring six runs, including three on a two-out double by Jim Edmonds, to take the lead for good. The Astros later added runs on a two-run homer from Lance Berkman and a solo shot from Mike Lamb, but the Cards would hold on for a 10–7 win.
All seven of the Astros' runs in Game 1 scored on home runs.
|WP: Julián Tavárez (1–0) LP: Dan Miceli (0–1) Sv: Jason Isringhausen (2)
HOU: Carlos Beltrán (2), Morgan Ensberg (1)
STL: Larry Walker (1), Scott Rolen 2 (2), Albert Pujols (2)
The Cardinals beat the Astros 6–4 and took a 2–0 lead in the series. The Cardinals broke a 4–4 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back home runs from Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen; Rolen also hit a game-tying homer in the fifth inning.
|WP: Roger Clemens (1–0) LP: Jeff Suppan (0–1) Sv: Brad Lidge (1)
STL: Larry Walker (2), Jim Edmonds (1)
HOU: Jeff Kent (2), Carlos Beltrán (3), Lance Berkman (2)
In the first game of the series played in Houston's Minute Maid Park, the Astros defeated the Cardinals 5–2 behind home runs by Jeff Kent, Carlos Beltrán, and Lance Berkman. Roger Clemens pitched seven innings for the win, which left the Astros trailing 2–1 in the series.
|WP: Dan Wheeler (1–0) LP: Julián Tavárez (1–1) Sv: Brad Lidge (2)
STL: Albert Pujols (3)
HOU: Lance Berkman (3), Carlos Beltrán (4)
The Astros evened the series with the Cardinals at two games apiece with a 6–5 win. Carlos Beltrán supplied the winning margin with a solo home run in the seventh inning. Beltrán tied records for the most home runs in a single postseason (8) and most consecutive postseason games with a home run (5).
|WP: Brad Lidge (1–0) LP: Jason Isringhausen (0–1)
HOU: Jeff Kent (3)
The Astros defeated the Cardinals 3–0. Jeff Kent drove in the winning runs with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Astros starter Brandon Backe took a perfect game into the fifth inning, when he walked Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds, and allowed only one hit (a single to second baseman Tony Womack) in eight innings. Houston led the best-of-seven series 3–2.
|WP: Julián Tavárez (2–1) LP: Dan Miceli (0–2)
HOU: Mike Lamb (2)
STL: Albert Pujols (4), Jim Edmonds (2)
Returning to St. Louis, Matt Morris started Game 6 for the Cardinals, as did Pete Munro for the Astros. The scoring began with Carlos Beltrán coming home in the top of the first off of a sacrifice fly. The Cardinals responded in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer by the red-hot Albert Pujols. In the third, Jeff Bagwell hit a double for Astros, bringing Carlos Beltrán back home and putting another one for the Astros. Again, the Cardinals responded when Edgar Rentería hit a single scoring Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.
In the top of the ninth inning, two outs from losing, Bagwell hit a miracle single, scoring the tying run in Morgan Ensberg. The game went into extra innings, but the Astros' good fortune turned sour when Jim Edmonds, who hit 42 home runs in the regular season, hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the twelfth, sending the series to a Game 7 showdown.
|WP: Jeff Suppan (1–1) LP: Roger Clemens (1–1) Sv: Jason Isringhausen (3)
HOU: Craig Biggio (1)
STL: Scott Rolen (3)
The final, deciding Game 7 started off with Astros' leadoff man Craig Biggio smacking a home run in the game's first at-bat off Cardinals' starter Jeff Suppan to make it 1–0. The Astros' threat continued in the second by putting two men on, but thanks to a tremendous catch by Jim Edmonds the Cardinals were able to get out of the inning unscathed. In the third, however, the Astros made it 2–0 with Carlos Beltrán scoring on a passed ball from Edmonds to third baseman Scott Rolen. The Cardinals were able to battle back, Suppan scoring Tony Womack on a squeeze play, cutting the lead to 2–1. Then in the sixth Albert Pujols doubled to tie the game and Scott Rolen put the Redbirds ahead with a two-run home run off Roger Clemens. St. Louis added another insurance run and Jason Isringhausen shut down Houston in the ninth to win the Cardinals their first National League pennant in seventeen years.
|St. Louis Cardinals||8||1||4||1||6||9||0||3||0||0||0||2||34||60||1|
|Total attendance: 337,655 Average attendance: 48,236|
- "2004 NLCS Game 1 - Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2004 NLCS Game 2 - Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2004 NLCS Game 3 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2004 NLCS Game 4 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2004 NLCS Game 5 - St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2004 NLCS Game 6 - Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
- "2004 NLCS Game 7 - Houston Astros vs. St. Louis Cardinals". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.