skip to nav skip to content
The Pittsburgh Pirates have won the longest game of the 2012 major league baseball season, handing the St. Louis Cardinals a stinging 6-3 loss in 19 innings Sunday at Busch Stadium.
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit a solo home run off Barret Browning (1-3), the eighth Cardinals pitcher, then centerfielder Andrew McCutchen drove in two more runs before the home team went down quietly in the bottom of the 19th.
The win keeps Pittsburgh in the lead for the second wildcard spot in the National League as the Cardinals fall two games back in that race.
The marathon lasted six hours and seven minutes. It was the second longest game by time ever played in St. Louis, topped only by a 20 inning 2-1 loss to the New York Mets on April 17th, 2010. That game went 6:53. It tied for the second longest game by innings played in St. Louis, matched by a 19 inning loss to the Atlanta Braves in 1988 that saw current Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo pitch the final four innings.
Jaime Garcia, sidelined with a left shoulder strain, made his first start since June 5th, and was impressive. He allowed two runs on five hits in eight innings, but struck out a career high ten while allowing no walks.
Garcia says physically, he feels like a different guy "I've been working really hard these last couple of months and I've been wanting to get out there. Today's a good sign of me feeling good physically, but it's just one game. I've just got to keep working hard and keep going one day at a time."
Ironically, Garcia was the starting pitcher for St. Louis in the 20 inning game against the Mets. He says there were definite similarities between that game and Sunday's. "We were talking about that," Garcia said. "Everytime I start something crazy happens."
The crazy game started to take shape as the Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th when Carlos Beltran doubled home Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.
Pittsburgh evened it up in the 6th, scoring its first run on Josh Harrison's sacrifice fly to center, and tying the game 2-2 on an infield hit by McCutchen.
The game stayed tied for the next ten innings until the Pirates took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 17th. Joe Kelly, getting his first bullpen assignment and working 5 2/3 innings, got into a bases loaded jam with two out. Manager Mike Matheny summoned lefty Marc Rzepczynski from the pen. The Pirates' Garrett Jones hit a grounder that scooted off the pitcher's glove and rolled toward second for an infield hit.
But the Cardinals weren't done. In the bottom of the 17th, pinch hitter Tony Cruz lifted a sacrifice fly to left that brought in the tying run. It was Pittsburgh 3, St. Louis 3 going to the 18th.
Each team had baserunners in the 18th but neither managed to score, setting up the final inning as Matheny used Browning, his last available reliever.
A quiet Matheny told reporters after the game how tough it was to lose. "I don't know if it could be any more disappointing. I don't know how else to say it. Their bullpen did a nice job. Ours did too. Joe Kelly in particular did a great job coming in there and really throwing the ball well. I don't know how you can put your finger on one thing."
The Cardinals drop to 65-56 on the season and fall 8 1/2 games behind the division leading Cincinnati Reds.
St. Louis has an off day Monday and will be back at Busch Stadium Tuesday night to open a series with the Houston Astros. Adam Wainwright, who walked as a pincher hitter in the 18th inning on Sunday, gets the start for St. Louis. He'll be opposed by Ozark High School product Lucas Harrell.
Sunday's game is the longest by innings in Major League Baseball this season, topping the 17 innings played between Baltimore and Boston on May 6th. That game also lasted 6:07.
St. Louis Cardinals pitchers tied a franchise record with 19 strikeouts in the contest, matching the 19 K's by Hall of Famer Steve Carlton on September 15th, 1969.
Garcia's ten strikeouts marked the first time a Cards lefty had double digit K's since Mark Mulder had 12 strikeouts on May 9th, 2005 against the Dodgers. The last Cardinal to strike out ten batters with zero walks was Rick Ankiel on September 13th, 2000 with 11 K's at Pittsburgh.
|Submit photos to: