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Yadier Molina Gets A Curtain Call After Game Tying Home Run
"Happy Flight!" It's become the catch phrase for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 when they win a big game before hitting the road. That chant reverberated through the Cards clubhouse at Busch Stadium Sunday afternoon following a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.
It's a victory that moved the club within one game of Atlanta in the National League Wildcard race as the Redbirds get set to catch a flight to Houston for the final three games of the regular season.
Former Missouri State Bears pitcher Ross Detwiler pitched six shutout innings to lead the Washington Nationals to a 3-0 win over Atlanta, giving St. Louis an opportunity to get the race down to a single game, and the home team responded.
After Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 4th on Geovany Soto's sacrifice fly, Cardinals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson helped himself by hitting a sacrfice fly with the based loaded in the bottom of the 5th, tying the game 1-1.
The Cubs got to Jackson in the 7th as Marlon Byrd led off with a double. After Jackson struck out Soto and pitcher Randy Wells, shortstop Starlin Castro singled home the go ahead run, making it 2-1 Chicago.
But the Cardinals had an answer, and it came catcher Yadier Molina. The veteran backstsop put a charge into the crowd of 41,469 by launching a home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the 7th, tying the game 2-2. It turned out to be the first of two curtain calls for the Cardinals.
The game winning blow came in the bottom of the 8th. Leadoff man Rafael Furcal took an 0-1 pitch from Wells and put it over the right field wall, putting St. Louis up 3-2 and giving the crowd another reason to call for the curtain.
Octavio Dotel (3-2), retired the final two batters in the 8th to get the win in relief of Jackson, who gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings. Chicago's starter, Wells, dropped to 7-6. He went eight innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Jason Motte worked a one-two-three top of the 9th to earn his ninth save of the season.
LaRussa says Molina is having such a clutch year for his team. "His year is MVP material if people looked at him everyday. Not just the offensive side but to see what he does to save us runs, he should be in the MVP contention."
Molina says right now, his team is playing good baseball. "We want to be better than where we are right now, but it is what it is. We're one game behind. We've got to win the race. We've got three more games to play and hopefully we can make it."
LaRussa admits it's scoreboard watching time as the final few games of the season unfold. "I tell you one thing I'm not," LaRussa said. "It's called too cool for school. I was looking from the get-go. Yeah, it's the fun of it. The fun of it's watching and you just can't get distracted.
The Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia (13-7) to the mound Monday night in Houston. He'll be opposed by Wandy Rodriguez (11-11). Game time is 7:05.
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