ST. LOUIS--The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs weren't exactly the best practitioners of extra-inning baseball before Tuesday night's fray dragged deep into the night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals, the only team in the National League not to have won in extra time, had been 0-3 in games past nine innings and the Cubs 1-4 with their only bonus-frames win over the Cardinals here in April.
But the Cardinals finally attained a milestone of sorts. They scored their first extra-inning run of the season in the 12th inning, equating to their first extra-inning win. It came in bizarre fashion as rookie Greg Garcia was hit with a 1-2 pitch with the bases loaded and one out to enable the Cardinals to ease past the Cubs, 4-3, in 4 hours, 39 minutes.
Jhonny Peralta singled to open the 12th against Justin Grimm and, after Matt Holliday fouled out, both Allen Craig and Yadier Molina walked.
Garcia, batting for winning pitcher Seth Maness, was plunked in the upper back by a 1-2 pitch.
The Cardinals, looking for any sort of elixir to rouse them from their lethargy in the standings, turned earlier to a tried and true remedy from baseball's days of yore. The tonic was called 'small ball.'
After being bashed 17-5 by Chicago's 'big ball,' the night before, the Cardinals found themselves in arrears to the Cubs at 2-1 in the sixth inning of a tight, but extremely slow-paced game before a paid house of 43,627 at Busch Stadium. But then they mixed an equal dose of speed and patience to score two runs, taking a 3-2 lead. They were one out from turning that into a victory before Trevor Rosenthal suffered his first blown save of the season.
With one out in the ninth, Rosenthal allowed a single to Junior Lake and walked Darwin Barney. He fanned Chris Coghlan, but Emilio Bonifacio dropped a single in front of right fielder Joey Butler, seeing his first time in the outfield for the Cardinals, as Lake came home with the tying run.
But Gold Glove catcher Molina threw out his second runner of the night and ninth in 17 tries this season to help keep the Cubs off the board in the 10thh inning as Sam Freeman, recalled from Class AAA Memphis earlier in the day, struck out two hitters after issuing a leadoff walk. Molina turned the first strikeout into a double play.
Veteran Pat Neshek, unscored on in his last 14 outings, pitched a perfect 11th and Cubs center fielder Bonifacio made a good running catch near the wall to deprive Matt Carpenter of a potential double to end the Cardinals' 11th.
Before the late-inning activity, the key inning was the Cardinals' sixth. Peter Bourjos beat out a bunt for a hit off the Cubs' Carlos Villanueva, and then the cat-and-mouse began. Mark Ellis worked an 11-pitch at-bat, not counting a handful of throws to first by Villanueva, before grounding to first, with Bourjos taking second.
Manager Mike Matheny had starter Adam Wainwright in the on-deck circle as the next hitter but pulled him for lefthanded-hitting Jon Jay when the Cubs did not yet have a lefthander up in the bullpen, perhaps thinking Wainwright was going to hit.
Jay worked a 10-pitch walk from Villanueva, during which the Cubs began warming up lefthander Wesley Wright. On ball four to Jay, Bourjos stole third.
Carpenter hit a slow roller past third baseman Luis Valbuena to shortstop Starlin Castro, who tried for a force at second but threw errantly as Bourjos scored and the other two runners were safe.
Peralta, only three for 31 (.091) with men in scoring position, singled to left, the only ball that left the infield in the inning, to put the Cardinals ahead.
Wainwright wasn't at his sharpest but still managed to hold the Cubs to seven hits and two runs over six innings, both the runs coming on Valbuena's two-run homer in the third. Before the game, Matheny had said, "That's part of the definition of your ace ... he's going to be the guy to fix things when they look completely out of whack and get it back on track. We couldn't ask to have a better scenario than to have him on the mound today. But just like being at home, it doesn't necessarily automatically translate into wins and neither does having your ace on the mound. We still have to go out and do our part collectively."
Lefthander Kevin Siegrist and Molina did theirs in the seventh. With Mike Olt at first and one out, Siegrist fanned Bonifacio and Molina threw out Olt, who was running on the full-count pitch, to end the inning.
Carlos Martinez did his part in the eighth, stranding his 11th inherited runner out of 11 by getting the final two outs after Siegrist had issued a walk. But Rosenthal, for one of the few times this year, didn't do his.
Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, who walked five and fanned five in four innings, started the scoring in the third with a single to left. Bonifacio struck out but Valbuena cracked his second homer over the right-field wall. Valbuena, hitting .207 at game time, was seven for 16 (.438) against Wainwright after his drive, which bounced back onto the field, prompting Matheny to discuss the matter briefly with first-base umpire Will Little before conceding the home run.
The Cardinals ran themselves out of a potentially big inning in the third but managed to scratch across one run.
Arrieta, barely matching strikes with balls, walked both Peralta and Holliday to open the inning. Craig fanned on a breaking ball, but Molina singled to left. Peralta, upon approaching the ball, jumped to let it pass between his legs but lost his balance, fell and had to stop at third. When Holliday saw the ball get into left field, he roared around second only to have to brake when he saw Peralta had halted at third.
Cubs left fielder Lake alertly threw behind Holliday, who headed toward third, forcing Peralta to start for home. In the ensuing rundown, Peralta was tagged out, Holliday made third and Molina second.
Matt Adams hit a grounder over third and by the time overshifted third baseman Valbuena got to the ball, Adams had a full head of steam going and beat the play at first as Holliday scored to make it 2-1.
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