Houston ends 44 years of futility as Oswalt dominates Cardinals in NLCS Game 6 ST. LOUIS – On this wild night of celebration, the Houston Astros owed it all to Roy Oswalt. He took their dreams, hopes and gritty resolve and pitched his teammates into their first World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 Wednesday night with help from Craig Biggio. Coming off a crushing loss in Game 5 of the NL championship series at home on Albert Pujols' stunning homer, the stubborn Astros refused to be shaken. They jumped to an early lead behind Biggio and Jason Lane, got perhaps a little help from the umpires and watched Oswalt shut down St. Louis for seven innings in earning the series MVP award. Now that this wild-card team has its first NL pennant, the Astros will travel to Chicago take on the AL champion White Sox in the World Series, which begins Saturday night. Cameras flashed all over Busch Stadium as Dan Wheeler got Yadier Molina on a flyball for the final out. NL champions for the first time in their 44-season history, the Astros rushed to the mound to celebrate, bouncing in unison before heading to the clubhouse for what was sure to be a more raucous party. Houston had been 0-5 with a chance to clinch the NLCS. This time, the Astros would not be denied. For St. Louis, the loss marked the end of the season for the team that led the majors with 100 wins. It also was the final game at Busch, scheduled for demolition to make room for the city's new ballpark. After the final out, St. Louis fans stood and applauded, then chanted "Let's Go Cardinals!" The video board played highlights of great Cardinals players and moments at Busch Stadium, featuring Ozzie Smith, Mark McGwire and even broadcaster Jack Buck. The Astros won this rematch in six games after losing last year in Game 7 at Busch Stadium. Thanks to Oswalt, it didn't go that far this time. Roger Clemens did his part, Andy Pettitte did, too – and Astros stalwarts Biggio and Jeff Bagwell finally fulfilled their delicious dream of winning a pennant together. So while the Fall Classic is headed to the Windy City for the first time since 1959, Texas will get its first crack ever. Folks in the Lone Star State like things big, and it doesn't get any bigger than this in baseball. Get ready for "Deep in the Heart of Texas" during the seventh-inning stretch. In baseball-mad St. Louis, the Busch era ended in bitter disappointment. Swept by Boston in the 2004 World Series and determined to avenge that defeat, the Cardinals were unable to capture a second consecutive pennant. St. Louis is still waiting for its first World Series championship since 1982. Born in 1962 as the Colt .45s, the Astros didn't make the playoffs until 1980 and didn't win a postseason series until last year. Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard and Mike Scott highlighted some stingy pitching staffs the called the mammoth Astrodome home, but they couldn't carry Houston to a pennant. Not until Pettitte and Clemens came home to join Oswalt in a stellar rotation did the Astros get over the hump. And on the night it clinched the NLCS, Houston didn't even need to use Brad Lidge, the All-Star closer who gave up Pujols' two-out homer in the ninth inning Monday night that sent the series back to St. Louis. The Astros were one strike from their first World Series before David Eckstein's single started the rally in Game 5. Lidge had been voted MVP late in Game 5 before he gave up Pujols' prodigious shot. Several other teams that squandered terrific chances to clinch a postseason series never recovered: the 1986 California Angels, the 1986 Boston Red Sox, the 2003 Chicago Cubs and the 2004 New York Yankees, to name a few. Oswalt, who also beat Mark Mulder in Game 2 at Busch Stadium, gave up only three hits and struck out six, improving to 4-0 in his postseason career. By closing it out Wednesday night, the Astros gave themselves a choice of Clemens or Pettitte to start Game 1 of the World Series on full rest. The Astros became the first team to win a pennant after dropping 15 games under .500 since 1914 Boston Braves. Now, they'll take aim on something else: trying to become the fourth straight wild-card team to win the championship. Of course, no game in this postseason would be complete without a disputed call by an umpire. With the Cardinals trailing 3-0 in the fifth, Mark Grudzielanek was hit by a pitch and Molina singled for their first hit. Oswalt knocked down Abraham Nunez's comebacker and threw wide to second, where Adam Everett made a lunging grab and tried to tag Molina, who jumped back in an effort to dodge the shortstop's glove. Second base ump Greg Gibson initially spread his arms – perhaps signaling safe, perhaps just to show that Everett was off the bag. Then Gibson made two emphatic out calls, apparently ruling that Everett tagged Molina. Replays appeared to show that Everett missed the tag, and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa argued briefly to no avail. During an in-game TV interview, La Russa said the umpire told him there had been a tag. Instead of having the bases loaded with none out, the Cardinals had runners at the corners with one out. Pinch-hitter John Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly and Eckstein struck out, ending the inning. Astros manager Phil Garner took a page out of La Russa's playbook in the sixth, when Everett's suicide squeeze made it 4-1. Morgan Ensberg added a two-out RBI single in the seventh. Oswalt advanced two runners with a sacrifice bunt in the third, though St. Louis passed up a chance to cut down the lead runner at third. Mulder's wild pitch behind Biggio gave Houston the lead, and Biggio's RBI single made it 2-0. Lane connected for a solo shot in the fourth, prompting the Cardinals to get their bullpen up. Mulder, who entered with a 1.91 ERA in six previous postseason starts, allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings. Pujols drew an earsplitting standing ovation before his first at-bat, and flashbulbs popped on every pitch to him as the crowd chanted "MVP! MVP!" After striking out, he got another huge hand. Notes: Hall of Famer Stan Musial was scheduled to throw out the first pitch but was unable to because he has not been feeling well. Musial also missed the Busch Stadium farewell ceremonies after the regular-season finale on Oct. 2. ... The Cardinals pulled off 13 successful squeeze plays during the regular season. ... Nunez was back in the starting lineup after missing the previous two games with a deep thigh bruise.