The Cardinals had it in the palm of their hands Sunday night. But, like so many times before in the first three-quarters of the 2011 season, they let it get away.
They held a 5-2 lead against Milwaukee's best pitcher and were on the verge of knocking Zack Greinke out of the box when St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia inexplicably started serving up go-fer balls the Brewers stormed back to a 6-5 lead in a game they eventually took 9-6.
St. Louis wasted a three-run homer from David Freese who parked a ball over the right centerfield wall to put the Cardinals up 4-2 after a first inning 1-0 lead was erased by a walk and a monster Ryan Braun homer in the bottom of the first.
After the Cardinals retook the lead it seemed that Greinke had lost his composure. He was in a position to be bombed out the game but impatient Cardinals hitters let him regain his footing -- and some terrible defense opened the door for the Brewers to get back in the game.
Octavio Dotel, who relieved Garcia, had a ball hit back to him which he threw flat footed toward first base. The toss was wide and, instead of Albert Pujols vacating the bag to keep if from going into right field, he swipped at it casually and the ball bounded away.
If the Redbirds would have won, they would have had command of the National League Championship Series. The worst they could do would be a one game each tie when the series shifted to St. Louis for three games. Now they are in a must win situation tonight or else they could come home in desperation mode, down 2-0.
The Birds will send Edwin Jackson to the hill against Sean Marcum. Hopefully they can hold serve and come home to play behind Chris Carpenter as Milwaukee reaches the lower part of its rotation.