The Cardinals ninth inning win over the Padres could go down as the moment the 2009 team arrived.
After a pair of lengthy rain delays, the Birds found themselves down by a run in the ninth inning against closer Heath Bell who had blown only one save all year. With one out Yadier Molina singled home Ryan Ludwick to tie the game at five and then Colby Rasmus cranked a deep homer to right field to give the Cardinals a huge 7-5 win.
It would have been easy to let this one slide. But the Cardinals refused to settle and put the cherry on top of a 5-1 homestand. Sure, they were playing weak teams, but they made a maximum effort and came through when they should have.
The Cubs were rained out so the victory extends the Cardinals lead to five games when it looked like it would dwindle to four.
Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus celebrates after hitting a game-winning homer Sunday against San Diego. AP photo.
Kyle Lohse was fair until the fourth inning when the wheels seemed to fall off and he was touched for three runs. He gave up a huge blast to Adrian Gonzalez then walked Chase Headley, gave up a single to Kyle Blanks and an RBI hit to Henry Blanco. Pitcher Clayton Richard hid a deep ball to centerfield that Rasmus made a great play to catch to allow the third run.
On the verge of getting knocked out of the game, Lohse settled down until he again was derailed in the sixth with three straight hits to tie the game and a sacrifice fly to surrender the lead.
It looked like that would be a critical error when the rain came and threatened to shorten the game. But the umpires were patient, with the Padres leaving town after their last game with the Cardinals for the season. And the Redbirds made the most of their chance.
Cardinals Star of the Game: It's expected that Rasmus would get the nod after his late inning heroics -- batting in the eighth spot in a start against a lefty Padres hurler. But he's going to have to share it with Molina, who tied the game with a two-strike hit in the ninth. Molina was on base five times with a pair of hits and three walks. He scored twice and drove in two, accounting for more than half of his team's runs.
Lowlight: Lohse is going to have to bear down and improve. Five earned runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings isn't what anyone expects from a pitcher who signed a pretty pricy four-year deal on the last day of the season in 2008. The Cardinals need Lohse to be a quality number three starter who can help them make a push for the playoffs.