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Jason Motte And Yadier Molina Get Ready To Celebrate A Win
The St. Louis Cardinals survived a wild 9th inning at Busch Stadium Saturday, pulling out a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to move within a game of the second wildcard spot in the National League.
Closer Jason Motte worked himself into and right back out of a bases loaded jam to secure his 28th save of the season. But it was far from easy.
With St. Louis leading 5-3, Motte, who blew a save and the game Thursday night against Arizona by giving up back to back home runs, allowed a single to Gaby Sanchez to start the 9th. Yamaico Navarro hit a ball to third that David Freese bobbled, putting the tying runs on base. Then, Motte drilled the Pirates' Jordy Mercer to load the bases.
Gut check time. The National League's leading hitter, Andrew McCutchen, grounded into a force out as Freese got the runner at second as a run crossed the plate, making it 5-4. Motte fell behind rightfielder Garrett Jones 3-0, and with Jones swinging, Motte blasted one by him. Then, another swing and a miss. Strike two. Jones swung at another one on 3-2 and came up empty for the second out of the inning. Josh Harrison then grounded to Freese to end the game.
Motte says with Jones at the plate, he was just trying to get him to hit it on the ground. "I tried to go sinkers the first couple of pitches, trying to get him to roll over and not give him anything to elevate. I fell behind 3-0, and Yadi was like hey, this guy's swinging. We know that going into it. We know what guys' tendencies are so I knew he was going to swing and I was going to go at him. It was probably a ball that sailed up and in on him. But I was able to do that and the next pitch come back with another sinker away that he swung at, then I was able to get him out."
Cards Manager Mike Matheny says Motte did a good job of making good pitches when he needed in the 9th inning. "That's huge....huge for his confidence and needless to say what that is for us. Jones has been pretty hot. Jason is a strikeout pitcher and fortunately it worked out that way this time."
The Cardinals jumped out in front early as shortstop Rafael Furcal doubled leading off the game. Matt Carpenter, who got the start in right field, knocked in Furcal with a base hit to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.
The Pirates tied the game 1-1 in the 3rd on Mercer's RBI single, but the Cardinals grabbed a 3-1 lead in the home half of the 4th when centerfielder Shane Robinson drove in two runs with a double.
Pittsburgh tied the game in the 5th as Mercer drove in another run with a double and Jones hit a sacrifice fly that knotted it 3-3.
The Cardinals answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the 5th, highlighted by catcher Yadier Molina's two run ground rule double down the line in right that gave St. Louis a 5-3 lead. Molina had missed the last three games with tightness in his back, but came through in a big way Saturday.
Five Cards relievers, Barret Browning, Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs, and Motte, combined to allow only one run after starting pitcher Lance Lynn left the game in the 5th.
Lynn gave up three runs on four hits, finishing with eight strikeouts. He walked the bases loaded in the 4th inning, but struck out the side.
Browning (1-2), recorded his first major league win. Pittsburgh starter Erik Bedard (7-13) took the loss, allowing five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
St. Louis pulls within one game of Pittsburgh in the battle for the second wildcard spot in the National League and would pull even with a win Sunday. The Cards raise their record to 65-55 with 42 games remaining.
The weekend series wraps up Sunday afternoon with a 1:15 start at Busch Stadium. Jaime Garcia (3-4, 4.48 ERA), recently activated from the disabled list following rehab starts at Springfield and Memphis, gets the ball for St. Louis. Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.91 ERA), pitches for the Pirates.
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