The Cardinals held their lead as the Cubs lost a second of their three-game set with the Mets on Sunday. But, even though they took two out of three from Pittsburgh, that doesn't make the way the last game went down any less ugly.
The Birds were sailing with a 4-1 in the sixth inning when starter Joel Pineiro came apart at the seams and allowed a trio of two out runs to tie the game. Then, when Rick Ankiel came into the game and hit an improbable pinch hit homer in the top of the ninth and all seemed well, newly re-signed close Ryan Franklin came in and got plastered by the Bucs' weak lineup to lose the game 6-5.
About the only good thing you can say about Sunday's game is that the Cardinals' magic number shrank to 15. But it stinks to lose a game in the ninth against the team with the second worst record in the National League.
Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel gets congratulations from his teammates after hitting a pinch hit homer in the ninth inning to give St. Louis a 5-4 lead over the Pirates.
Cardinals Star of the Game: I gave Albert Pujols the credit for hitting the late go ahead homer yesterday, so I guess I should be consistent and give it to Ankiel today... Although Pujols was 3-for-5, the only St. Louis player to manage more than a single hit.
Lowlight: Franklin has struggled since inking his two-year contract extension. Is he feeling the pressure of living up to the money? In need of rest? Or are the odds just catching up with him? I'm not sure. But this isn't the time to have the back of the bullpen break down. So, hopefully, he'll get over whatever it is fast,