Cardinals in driver's seat with ten games left
SEP 22, 2012 4:06p ET
"We're in the drivers seat," Wainwright said. "We just have to go out and play good ball. We go out and execute and worry about what we have to do and not the rest of the league, we'll be just fine."
Two outs from a potentially devastating loss, the Cardinals used two swings of the bat to turn the tables into arguably one of their most important wins of the season.
Carlos Beltran homered off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol with one out in the ninth inning to tie the game and Jon Jay provided the go-ahead single with two outs in the tenth to propel the Cardinals to a 5-4 win at Wrigley Field.
The win moved the Cardinals to 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and three games up on the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second wild card spot in the National League with just ten games left to play in the regular season.
"Everybody knows what's at stake right now," said Jay, who lined a run-scoring two-out double just inside the first base bag after a pair of two out walks. "It's that time where every win is important and every game is important. It was huge.
"We all want to get back to the playoffs, we got a taste of it last year and we definitely think we have the team to do it but we just have to do it. It was just a big hit."
The Cardinals suffered arguably one of their toughest losses of the season Friday afternoon at Wrigley when the Cubs tied the game on two-out, two-strike homer in the ninth inning and won it on a two-out hit in the 11th.
And combined with the Brewers, Dodgers and Phillies all winning, the Cardinals temporarily saw their lead for the second wild card spot dip to just 1.5 games. Two outs from another rough loss Saturday, Beltran continued his resurgence.
The switch-hitter turned around a Marmol fastball and sent it deep into the seats down the right field line, awaking a large Cardinals contingent in the stands and potentially delivering a huge boost to their playoff chances.
It was home run No. 30 for Beltran, the fourth time he's reached the mark in his career. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
"After losing yesterday's ballgame, we kind of left the ballpark honestly feeling a little bit down," Beltran said. "But it was a good thing that we were able to come here today and win this one. It really means a lot. Every game for us means something.
"I think any team would love to be in our spot, fighting for something and the opportunity to be in the playoffs. This is good. You work hard I the offseason and in spring training to have this opportunity so we are happy with where we're at."
The Brewers, Dodgers and Phillies all lost Saturday, returning the Cardinals to exactly the same situation they found themselves before Friday's game. And they were able to knock two games off the schedule in the process.
Wainwright allowed four earned runs in seven innings, blowing an early 3-0 lead by giving up three runs during a rough sixth inning. The Cubs got four hits and a sacrifice fly in the inning, which included a leadoff home run from David DeJesus.
But Wainwright tossed a scoreless seventh inning and four Cardinals relievers kept the Cubs scoreless the rest of the way to keep the door open for the late-inning heroics.
"It was a huge game for us," Wainwright said. "If we had lost that game, I don't think I would have slept tonight at all. Carlos, I kissed him right on the cheek. I wanted to kiss him on the mouth. He saved me. He saved the team today.
"Jon Jay came up with a huge hit right there, but I was very disappointed that I gave up those three runs that inning. It hurt me deep, but a win is a win and I will certainly learn from that."
Said Beltran, "Yeah he gave me a few kisses on my cheek for sure, but that's love. That's good."
Kyle Lohse will start the series finale against the Cubs on Sunday before the Cardinals travel to Houston for three games against the team with baseball's worst record. Then it's home for three games against the Washington Nationals and three against the Cincinnati Reds to finish out the regular season.
"That was as good as they get," said manager Mike Matheny, who celebrated his 42nd birthday on Saturday. "The guys played hard and wow, what an up and down. Just a lot of good things happened there.
"Every game has been like this, we're sitting on the edge of our seat. It builds some character and fight, there's no question. … It seems like we get in those extra inning game and we've had a lot of them not go our way but the guys kept pushing, kept fighting and today it was a good day."
Winners of five of their past six games, the Cardinals hope they continue to have many more good days ahead.