HOUSTON (AP) -- When All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal went on the disabled list last month, the St. Louis Cardinals weren't sure how they would fill his spot.
Rookie Pete Kozma is proving to be a more than adequate replacement.
Kozma hit a two-run homer, Lance Lynn pitched seven innings to earn his 17th win and the Cardinals strengthened their grip on a playoff spot with a 6-1 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.
Yadier Molina added a solo shot as the Cardinals moved 3 games in front of Milwaukee and Los Angeles for the second NL wild card. The Brewers lost 12-2 at Washington earlier in the day, and the Dodgers were off.
"I don't think anybody would look past us losing our starting shortstop, an All-Star, leadoff hitter for most of the season, and think that was not going to be impactful on our club," manager Mike Matheny said. "Pete was given the opportunity and he just jumped on it. That's how most careers are started."
Lynn (17-7) struck out nine and allowed one run ...