Every game is a must-win for the Cardinals at this stage.
Friday night, they did just that — battling back after a Corey Patterson dropped catch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win, thanks to 11th inning heroics from Adron Chambers with his first big-league hit and RBI. Final score: 4-2.
Even better, the Mets pounded the Braves 12-2, which means the Cardinal are now 3 1/2 games back in the wild card. There are 12 games left.
The Cards’ win had a couple of milestones. It made their record 82-68, the first time this season they’ve been 14 games over .500. Albert Pujols was 4 for 4 with two walks and raised his batting average to .301, the first time all season he’s reached the .300 mark.
While Chambers hit was huge, the game was definitely a team victory with valuable contributions from many.
- Jaime Garcia pitched seven innings and allowed five hits and one run, although only one hit outside of the second inning when the Phillies scored.
- Yadier Molina hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the eighth that was just fair and would have been the game-winner. He also showed that even fumbling the ball at home doesn’t mean he can’t throw out the base runner, as John Mayberry discovered.
- Octavio Dotel came in with two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth to face Hunter Pence, and struck him out.
- Actually, the bullpen overall was terrific. In four innings of work, they allowed only two hits, the unearned run in the ninth and struck out five.
- Following Chambers’ hit, Tyler Perry Greene hit a ball off the top of the wall in left field to drive in the Cards’ fourth run. It was only his second at-bat since Sept. 4.
Back to Chambers: the hit came on his second-ever at-bat, and it certainly rates watching again.
A great win against a tough opponent that would have clinched the NL East with a victory, also thanks to the Braves loss.
And, as mentioned, that moves the Cardinals up a game in the wild card standings to 3 1/2 back. Those numbers are on the minds of the Cards players as well, as Albert said.
“Obviously, we have a chance and we’re going to take everything to win games and win series and see where we’re at. If we fall short at the end, at least we’ve tried. With 30 games left we knew our season wasn’t over. Obviously, we’ve been playing pretty well in September.”
Today, both the Cards and the Phillies should know where they stand before their game even begins. The Mets take on the Braves at 3:10 p.m. Central on FOX, while Jake Westbrook faces Roy Oswalt starting at 6:05 p.m. Central.
You never know …
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.