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Sunday’s Game Report: Braves 4, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals had a 3-0 lead over the Braves on Sunday night when they handed the ball to Jordan Hicks to start the ninth inning, confident they were just a few minutes away from finally winning back-to-back games for the first time this month.
The way May has gone, however, they should have known it wouldn’t be that easy.
According to ESPN, which was broadcasting the game, teams with a lead of three or more runs going into the 9th inning this season were 423-2. That record is now 423-3.
Hicks failed to retire any of the four batters he faced as the Braves tied the game before getting a bases-loaded walk in the 10th that scored the winning run and added more frustration to the Cardinals month of misery.
The last time the Cardinals won two games in a row was April 30 and May 1. They fell to 0-6-1 in series this month and saw their record for the month fall to 7-16.
“That one stings a little more than most,” said manager Mike Shildt. “We played a good game for 8 ½ innings and had the guy we wanted on the mound in the ninth.”
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals were held to just three hits, only two through the first nine innings … Their first hit, from Harrison Bader in the fourth, scored Kolten Wong, who had reached on a fielding error by left fielder Austin Riley. Bader went to second on the throw home, stole third and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jack Flaherty … Matt Carpenter had an infield single in the fifth, when the Cardinals’ third run scored on Yadier Molina’s sacrifice fly … The Cardinals only other hit was a two-out single by Yadier Molina in the 10th … Dexter Fowler remained hitless since moving into the leadoff spot (now 0-of-10 in three games) but has been hit by a pitch in each game … The Cardinals received six walks in the game, plus two hit batters, but left seven of those eight runners on base.
On the mound: Flaherty allowed just four baserunners over six scoreless innings, on three singles and a hit batter, who was erased in a double play, while striking out seven. He was in line for the win before the ninth inning collapse … John Gant and Carlos Martinez each allowed one baserunner in the eighth. Gant issued a walk while striking out four in 1 1/3 innings. Martinez got the final two outs in the inning, pitching around a single, before the Cardinals turned to Hicks in the ninth. He gave up a double, single, walked a batter and then allowed another single before coming out of the game. Ozzie Albies drove in the tying run with a single against Andrew Miller that capped a 10-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off five consecutive pitches before the hit … Tyler Webb suffered the loss in the 10th, allowing an infield single, then a walk before an intentional walk loaded the bases. He then issued an unintentional walk that drove in the go-ahead run.
Key stat: The Caridinals had been 24-1 this season when leading after eight innings. Their only other loss came in the fourth game of the season, on March 31, in Miwaukee when the Brewers scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to pull out a 5-4 win against Hicks.
Worth noting: The Cardinals will promote left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera to make the start and his major-league debut on Wednesday in Philadelphia, Shildt announced. Cabrera has been starting at Memphis, where the 22-year-old’s last appearance lasted six innings. He allowed two runs, walked one and struck out six and most importantly to the Cardinals was still throwing 96 to 98 miles per hour in his last inning. Cabrera was obtained from Tampa Bay last July in the Tommy Pham trade. He came to spring training as a reliever but struggled and moved back into the rotation at Memphis. The spot in the rotation opened up when Michael Wacha was moved to the bullpen … The Cardinals also are set to activate one of their top picks from last year’s draft, right-handed pitcher Griffin Roberts, who will complete a 50-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana on Tuesday. He likely will be assigned to Palm Beach.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals have the rare scheduling quirk of being off on Monday on Memorial Day. The team will fly to Philadelphia in the afternoon to open a three-game series on Tuesday night against the Phillies with Adam Wainwright on the mound.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains