HOUSTON -- Even if closer Mark Melancon worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning against the Cardinals, it wouldn't be the most anxiety he felt on Monday night.

Melancon's wife, Mary Catherine, was to be induced into labor following Monday's game with the couple's first child. The procedure was scheduled for 10:30 p.m. CT, or as soon as Melancon can leave the ballpark and make his way to the hospital.

"It's getting to that time," Melancon said. "Up until this point in time, it hasn't hit me. But today it's really hit me. I'm getting excited. I don't know what to expect. It's going to be a fun process."

Of course, Melancon would like to convert a save and become a father on the same day.

"That's the plan," he said.

Mills, Astros plan to give Cardinals their best

HOUSTON -- Because the Cardinals have so much on the line entering this week's series at Minute Maid Park -- St. Louis trailed Atlanta by one game in the National League Wild Card race -- Astros manager Brad Mills said he'll do some things differently than if he were playing a team not in contention.

With so many rookies on the roster, Mills has been giving younger players longer looks all season, something he won't necessarily do as long as the Cardinals remain in contention.

"You might be staying with some guys a little bit longer and you might want to see some guys get a few more at-bats if [the opposing team wasn't winning]," Mills said. "You want to try to win every game, don't get me wrong, whether they mean something or not.

"At the same time, we're still trying to find out about a lot of guys. Now, we might go with the hot hand a little bit more in these three games, things of that nature. We'll do more things matchup-wise, and because they're in our division, we've seen them a little bit more."

Worth noting

• Astros manager Brad Mills said pitching coach Doug Brocail will travel with him and general manager Ed Wade to the instructional league next week in Florida. Brocail has been offered a contract for next year, but he has yet to inform the Astros whether he'll return. Brocail wanted time to discuss it with his family.

• Catcher Carlos Corporan's status for Monday's game was up in the air. Corporan's infant son was scheduled to undergo a lengthy heart operation earlier in the day in Houston. Corporan has typically caught Wandy Rodriguez in recent weeks, but J.R. Towles was in the lineup instead.