Tyler Greene is all that currently stands between the Cardinals and second place.
The oft-maligned St. Louis second sacker hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth Monday night to pull the Redbirds out of the fire after closer Jason Motte came into the game in the top of the inning with two outs and served up a two-run double to put the Cardinals behind.
The Reds, who trailed St. Louis only by half a game after the Cardinals recent swoon brought the club back to the pack, had already pocketed a 4-1 win earlier in the day.
Completely stymied by San Diego lefty Clayton Richard for the bulk of the night, the Redbirds finally scored in the seventh inning when Green hit a leadoff single and then was moved to second base on a grounder by Shane Robinson. St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia hit a ball into the hole at shortstop and legged it out to put runners on first and third with one down.
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Rafael Furcal singled to plate one run for the Redbirds and tie the game at one and Garcia made it all the way to third base where he scored on a Matt Carpenter ground out to give the Birds a 2-1 advantage.
But in the top of the eighth Garcia allowed a lead-off double and was lifted from the game in favor of Mitchell Boggs. Cameron Maybin grounded out and moved Chris Denorfia to third base with one out. Chase Headley struck out to be the second batter retired in the inning and, with a lefty coming to the dish, manager Mike Matheny called for Marc Rzepczynski from the bullpen. The only southpaw St. Louis reliever walked his man on four pitches and then Motte got the call to face fastball hitter Jesus Guzman and surrendered a two-run double to put the Padres up 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth Richard struck out Beltran on three pitches. And then San Diego manager Bud Black let St. Louis up off the floor when he went to the bullpen for reliever Andrew Cashner. Yadier Molina shattered his bat on a 99 MPH fastball that just cleared the shortstop's glove for a single. Matt Adams struck out swinging for the second out. Then Greene belted a pitch into the right centerfield bleachers to put the Birds back on top 4-3 and Motte nailed the win down in the ninth.
The game was an interesting change of pace for Cardinals fans as technical difficulties forced Fox Sports Midwest to use the feed of sister station Fox Sports San Diego. Instead of the Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky and Rick Horton rotation, Birds fans were able to hear the call of Dick Endberg.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Greene was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two driven in for St. Louis. While he can still befuddle fans with defensive lapses, this performance ought to get Redbirds rooters off his back for a while. Greene, unlike former Redbird Colby Rasmus, is easier to forgive for mental breakdowns because he's not a middle of the order hitter. When your seventh or eighth place hitter cracks a homer it's gravy on top. When you're paid to be a middle of the order hitter like Rasmus, you're supposed to provide the meat and potatoes.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Motte's homer.
Lowlight: Garcia pitched seven innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk. He deserved the win but didn't get it because of another shoddy game from the bullpen.