video thumbnail

CHC@STL: Cardinals walk off on Garcia's hit-by-pitch

ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps it was with a bit of foreshadowing that, upon his Major League callup two weeks ago, Greg Garcia found himself hit by a pitch before ever appearing in a game.

That plunking came during his first round of big league batting practice, when Garcia didn't get out of the way of an inside pitch from Dennis Schutzenhofer. He's since been hit three more times, but none timelier than on Tuesday night.

With the bases full and Garcia summoned to pinch-hit, he collected his first career RBI by taking a two-strike pitch off his right elbow. Jhonny Peralta jogged home to seal the Cardinals' 4-3 win, the second walk-off hit-by-pitch in franchise history. The other came 40 years ago.

"Right there, my instinct was to get hit," Garcia said. "I wanted to get hit. I knew that meant the game was over. When I saw that pitch coming, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to get hit right there."

The extra-inning win, the Cardinals' first in four tries this season, bailed out closer Trevor Rosenthal, who was an out away from ending the game three innings earlier. But after the Cubs evened the game in the ninth, relievers Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek and Seth Maness bought time for the offense to come to life.

Chicago had retired 13 straight before Peralta initiated the game-winning rally with a leadoff single. Consecutive one-out walks to Allen Craig and Yadier Molina loaded the bases for Garcia, one of two position players left on manager Mike Matheny's bench.

Garcia fell behind, 0-2, then took a pitch low before standing in the box to take one off his elbow. The Cubs had also hit Garcia in a pinch-hit appearance on Monday. The utility infielder has now been plunked three times in 14 big league plate appearances. He was hit four times in 99 plate appearances at Triple-A Memphis.

"I don't know what it is up here," Garcia said. "I'm either just not getting out of the way or something. I just want to get on base any way I can. That's my job and my role on this team."

The Cardinals' bullpen was nearly exhausted by the time the four-hour, 39-minute game came to an end. Only Jorge Rondon remained available, and Matheny had been forced to use Maness for a fourth straight day. Maness volunteered himself after Matheny phoned the bullpen to check his status.

Maness' ability to work around a two-out double in the top of the 12th earned him the win.

"He wanted the ball," Matheny said. "I know he's hanging -- [having pitched] three days in a row after we haven't used him much. But he came in and made good pitches. He absolutely deserves that win today."

The Cubs pushed the game into extras by being the first team to soil Rosenthal's perfect save conversion rate. He has flirted with trouble regularly -- most recently loading the bases with no outs on Sunday against the Pirates -- and this time wouldn't escape unscathed.

He allowed a one-out single and pushed that runner into scoring position by walking Darwin Barney. With two outs, Emilio Bonifacio dropped the game-tying hit in front of right fielder Joey Butler. The blown save cost Adam Wainwright the chance to become the National League's first seven-game winner.

"Falling behind in counts hurt me," Rosenthal said. "Obviously, the walks are never good. Even that pitch to Bonifacio, I was trying to make a little better pitch there."

Rosenthal has walked 11 -- including one in each of his last five appearances -- in 17 1/3 innings as the team's closer.

"We give up free bases in the ninth inning, bad things are going to happen," Matheny said. "You have a one-run lead, you have to find a way to use your defense if nothing else. [He's] a little bit on the defense right now."

The bullpen inherited a one-run lead in large part due to sixth-inning contributions from both of the Cardinals' center fielders. Down, 2-1, Peter Bourjos surprised the Cubs with a first-pitch bunt off reliever Carlos Villanueva. Mark Ellis concluded an 11-pitch at-bat by moving him to second, and Matheny went all in for the tie.

He pulled Wainwright from the on-deck circle and sent out Jon Jay, who was 4-for-15 in his career against Villanueva. Jay, after falling behind, 1-2, drew a 10-pitch walk.

Bourjos went on to swipe third, putting him in position to score easily when Matt Carpenter hit a grounder to short.

"When I got on, he was pretty quick, so it was tough stealing second," Bourjos said of picking his spot to steal. "He slowed down a little bit [in his delivery time] when I got to second base, so it made it a little easier to steal third."

The Cardinals got more than expected, too, as Starlin Castro's off-line throw allowed Jay to slide in safely to second. One pitch later, the Cardinals had their first lead of the series on Peralta's RBI single to left.

It was the third unanswered run for the Cardinals, who used consecutive walks from Cubs starter Jake Arrieta and an infield hit from Matt Adams to score in the third. That was just after Chicago took a 2-0 lead with Luis Valbuena's home run to right on a pitch Wainwright described as well-located.

The Cubs, responsible for 12 of the 15 runs Wainwright has allowed this year, did well to push his pitch count up quickly. But Chicago wouldn't repeat its run-scoring success against the Cardinals' ace, though he didn't go seven innings for just the second time in his nine starts.

"Today was one of those days I was locating fine but my stuff was very pedestrian," Wainwright said. "Everything was going where it was supposed to, but it didn't have the sharpness it usually does."

But ...

"A win is a win," Wainwright added, "and we need wins right now."

MLB.com Comments