By R.B. FALLSTROM AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The St. Louis Cardinals blew a four-run lead in
the ninth inning and hurt their wild-card hopes when shortstop
Rafael Furcal misplayed a potential double-play grounder, allowing
the New York Mets to rally for an 8-6 win Thursday.
Ahead 6-2, the Cardinals walked three batters in helping the
Mets take the lead with a six-run burst. Willie Harris drew a walk
to begin the inning and capped it with a tiebreaking, two-run
single with two outs.
The loss dropped St. Louis two games behind idle Atlanta for the
wild card, with each team having six games left. The Cardinals lost
for only the third time in 16 games.
The Mets, who had lost nine of their previous 11, came back
against three St. Louis relievers.
After Harris drew a leadoff walk, Nick Evans hit a routine
grounder to Furcal. But Furcal, acquired in late July to boost the
Cardinals’ playoff push, fumbled the ball for his fifth error in
Jason Motte walked three of the five batters he faced, including
pinch-hitter Justin Turner with the bases loaded. Marc Rzepczynski
(0-3) allowed Jose Reyes’ RBI single.
Left fielder Shane Robinson almost saved the Cardinals with a
diving try, but Ruben Tejada’s drive glanced off the tip of his
outstretched glove for a two-run double that made it 6-all.
Fernando Salas gave up the hits to Tejada and Harris.
Albert Pujols and Allen Craig homered for the Cardinals. The
game was delayed 2 hours and 19 minutes by rain before the first
Harris missed a two-run homer by inches in the fourth on a drive
to right that curved just foul, waving his arms in triumph on the
bases and then in disgust after the play was upheld after a video
Pujols reached base safely for the 38th straight game, breaking
a tie with Andre Ethier for the longest streak in the league this
season and leaving him one shy of matching Johnny Damon’s major
league-best. His NL-leading 37th homer left him two RBIs shy of a
solid slate of 11 career 100-RBI seasons.
Craig has been filling in for injured Matt Holliday, and putting
up Holliday-style numbers with three homers, three doubles and
seven RBIs in eight games. He hit a two-run homer off Chris Capuano
in the first and he also doubled.
Pujols, who homered in the fifth, is a career .545 hitter (18
for 33) against Capuano with five homers, four doubles and 12 RBIs.
Jake Westbrook allowed a run on three hits in six innings,
retiring 13 of the first 15 hitters before running into trouble in
the fifth when he walked Reyes on four pitches to load the bases
and Tejada on five pitches to force in a run.
Yadier Molina added an RBI double in the Cardinals’ two-run
seventh, giving him a single-season best of 63 RBIs.
NOTES: Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter (10-9, 3.66) opposes the
Cubs’ Ryan Dempster (10-13, 4.63) in the opener of a three-game
series to end the home schedule on Friday night. … Atlanta starts
a series Friday night at Washington. … The one-year deal that
Mets LHP Tim Byrdak signed earlier in the week is for $1 million.
… Mets reliever Jason Isringhausen, the Cardinals’ closer for
much of his career, was honored for his 300th save in a pregame
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)