The Cardinals came all the way back from a 5-1 deficit to take the late lead Friday night against Atlanta.
But the Braves burned the St. Louis bullpen to re-gain the lead and the Redbirds couldn't capitalize on a number of scoring opportunities that would have put the game in the bag in sudden death.
Atlanta pounded Jaime Garcia for five runs through five innings. But two of them came with the assistance of catcher Yadier Molina who let two runners score from third on passed balls in the first inning. Molina, who is recovering from a bruised wrist, seemed like he was much more tentative than usual at blocking balls. After the first inning mistakes Molina went into the dugout tunnel and slammed his equipment in disgust.
The Cardinals used the long ball to get back into the game. Down 2-0, Matt Carpenter hit a solo shot just over the wall in straightaway centerfield to halve the Atlanta advantage.
In the fourth, Carlos Beltran cut into the Braves' 5-1 lead with a moonshot into Big Mac Land. Allen Craig followed with a solo blast of his own to make the score 5-3. The Birds then forged ahead in the sixth when Matt Holliday doubled to drive in Rafael Furcal and push Jon Jay to third. Then Beltran tripled home Holliday to make the score 6-5 St. Louis.
Reliever Marc Rzepczynski surrendered a solo homer to Dan Uggla to tie the game in the seventh Then Mitchell Boggs, who started the season off strongly but who has struggled terribly lately, gave up two hits and two walks in the eighth to put Atlanta back ahead 7-6.
Beltran hit a second homer in the bottom of the eighth to re-tie the game. But in the ninth the Cardinals couldn't take advantage of a Skip Schumaker lead-off single and the game went to extra innings.
In the 10th, Beltran led off with a double and Allen Craig was intentionally walked. Molina sacrificed the runners to second and third and the Braves intentionally passed Carpenter to give St. Louis the bases loaded and one out. David Freese, who had the night off, was brought in to pinch hit and he was unable to produce the needed sacrifice fly. Instead, he grounded a ball right up the middle for a rally-killing double play.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the eleventh inning but failed to score when Allen Craig popped out to center. And Atlanta finally took control in the bottom of the 12th with a deciding two run homer by Jason Heyward.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Beltran hit two homers, a triple and a double while driving in four runs and scoring a pair.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Beltran's Big Mac Land blast.
Lowlight: The poor work of the bullpen.