ST. LOUIS — Yadier Molina came within inches of a game-winning home run in the 11th inning Monday.
Being close only made the frustration worse for the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost to the New York Yankees 6-4 in 12 innings before 47,311, the third-largest regular-season crown in the history of Busch Stadium III.
Randy Choate (0-2) allowed three runs in the 12th, fueling the Yankees' outburst with a walk and a hit by pitch.
"I feel like I let the team down," Choate said. "You fight that hard and you're in the 12th inning, and I come into a spot that I relish being in --facing two good left-handed hitters. To walk one and hit the other is pretty disappointing."
Choate walked Jacoby Ellsbury on a 3-2 pitch. After Ellsbury stole second on a play challenged, and lost, by the Cardinals, Choate hit Brian McCann with a 2-2 pitch. Yangervis Solarte sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Ichiro Suzuki was intentionally walked to load the bases for switch-hitter Brian Roberts.
Roberts, batting just .227 against left-handed pitchers, grounded a single to left to make it 4-3. Jason Motte relieved and allowed a sacrifice fly to Alfonso Soriano that made it 5-3 and an RBI single to former Cardinal Brendan Ryan that made it 6-3.
The Cardinals got within 6-4 in the bottom of the inning on a throwing error by shortstop Derek Jeter that preceded Jon Jay's run-scoring double, but David Robertson struck out Kolten Wong to complete his 11th save.
"We did have some chances and some near-successes," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team trailed 1-0 and 3-1. "Whenever you see a team fight back like that and show that kind of grit and get that close, it always hurts a little extra."
The most notable near-success came in the 11th when Molina's drive to left against Alfredo Aceves (1-2) was grabbed by a leaping Brett Gardner near the top of the wall.
Gardner might not have saved a home run, but he prevented an extra-base hit that could have scored Matt Holliday from first. Molina, who had thrown out Gardner at second on a stolen-base attempt in the eighth, held onto his helmet and slammed it against the ground as he returned to the dugout.
"I was sure hoping it was (gone)," Matheny said. "He hit it well. I haven't seen the replay but it looked like if it wasn't caught, it was either off the top of the wall or gone."
Allen Craig said he "thought it had a really good shot."
"It had some good trajectory," he said. "It was close."
The Cardinals fell to 2-4 in extra innings, while the Yankees improved to 4-1.
Right-hander Michael Wacha pitched effectively after waiting out a 1-hour, 1-minute rain delay before the start of the game, allowing three runs on four hits in seven innings. Four times this season, Wacha's starts have been interrupted by rain delays totaling 4:52.
Walks hurt Wacha's chances for his four victory. He issued just two --one in the first, the other in the fifth --but both scored.
"I got in trouble with the two leadoff walks in those innings and they ended up scoring like they most of the time do," Wacha said. "I was pretty upset about that."
Wacha questioned the judgment of starting the game in the rain rather than waiting a few more minute for the system to pass.
"I guess it really didn't bother me too much," Wacha said. "I just didn't understand why we started the game whenever it was pouring down rain. It didn't affect me out there; I was just a little confused."
Matheny pointed out that Wacha was already warmed up and ready to go when the rain began falling with more vigor.
"He's been in that situation before and he's pitched in the rain," Wacha said. "He can get outs. It's just one of those things you have to put away in the back of your mind."
Gardner walked to open the game and went to second on Derek Jeter's single to center. Ellsbury followed with a single to right-center, putting the Yankees on top 1-0.
The Cardinals tied it in the first against Chase Whitley as Matt Carpenter led off with a triple and scored on Wong's double. Wong overslid third base and was tagged out on a stolen-base attempt, which hurt St. Louis when Matt Adams followed with a single.
New York took a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Suzuki walked, went to second on Roberts' hit and scored on Kelly Johnson's single. Two batters later, Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to left that plated Roberts.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth as Holliday doubled, Adams singled and Molina was hit by a pitch.
Whitley was relieved by Preston Claiborne, who allowed Craig's RBI on a fielder's choice and Jhonny Peralta's sacrifice fly.