KANSAS CITY -- Great pitching by the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright but no shutout. Great comeback by the Royals but no victory.
The third game of this year's I-70 Series went to St. Louis, as the Cardinals knocked off Kansas City in 11 innings, 5-2, on Wednesday night with 22,126 fans of divided loyalties at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals had won the first two games across the state at Busch Stadium.
Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals' leadoff batter, was the hottest hitting performer of the 80-degree evening. He went 5-for-5 with a walk, two doubles, two RBIs and two runs.
"It was just one of those games that we have to win," Carpenter said. "I just felt like this was our game, and we have to find a way to win it."
They found a way in the 11th inning with a three-run burst that shattered a 2-2 tie. Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera issued a one-out walk to Peter Bourjos, who stole second with the sizzling Carpenter at the plate.
Did Royals manager Ned Yost consider intentionally walking the left-handed hitter?
"A little bit. You look at the matchup numbers and Herrera is traditionally pretty good against left-handers with his changeup," Yost said. "He just got one up in the zone."
That one was belted by Carpenter into the right-center gap for the tiebreaking run.
Pinch-hitter Jon Jay followed with a single to left, Carpenter stopping at third. Tim Collins relieved Herrera and plunked Matt Holliday to load the bases. Allen Craig singled to right for two more runs.
That was it. Sidewheeling Pat Neshek put down the Royals in the bottom half for the first save of his nine-year career.
That drama came after the Royals had staged a stirring comeback against Wainwright. The Cardinals' ace was working on a three-hit shutout in the ninth inning. Suddenly, it all went awry.
"Right there we're in a spot where, we're going to look at our ace, and that's his game until he gets into a spot where he needs help," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "Obviously that didn't work, but that's the guy we want on the mound."
Strangely enough, the Royals' ninth-inning rally started with Eric Hosmer being safe after striking out for the fourth straight time. He fanned on a pitch that bounced off the plate and through catcher Yadier Molina. By the time he recovered and threw, Hosmer was safe via a wild pitch.
"I saw the ball got away from him and just tried to get down there as soon as possible," Hosmer said. "It's a weird way to get on, I wasn't trying to do that."
Billy Butler singled up the middle and, suddenly, Wainwright's bid for the ninth shutout of his career was over. Trevor Rosenthal relieved him and walked Alex Gordon to load the bases with nobody out and the Cardinals' 2-0 lead in jeopardy.
"Even going into the ninth inning with two or three hits or whatever we had, we still felt as a group we still had a chance to win the ballgame and that's a good feeling," Yost said. "Confidence is high in the locker room offensively now."
Salvador Perez smashed his bat on a ground ball to third, but the Cardinals could get only the forceout at second as Hosmer scored. Lorenzo Cain drilled a single to center, scoring pinch-runner Pedro Ciriaco for a 2-2 tie.
Rosenthal slipped a third strike past Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar ripped a line drive toward left field -- and into shortstop Jhonny Peralta's glove.
"When I hit it, in the first moment, I was saying 'C'mon, base hit!'" Escobar said. "And then when I saw he got it: 'Aww.' I hit that ball really good."
Wainwright was nearly perfect through the fifth, issuing only a walk to Gordon to start the second inning However, Escobar ended the no-hitter by leading off the sixth inning with a sharply lined single to right field. Escobar also doubled off Wainwright in the eighth.
"He paints. He's inside corner, outside corner, two-seam and cutting it away," said Cain, who went 0-for-3 against Wainwright. "Then he'll flip you a slow curveball. He kept everybody off-balance, except 'Esky' I guess."
Left-hander Jason Vargas labored through eight innings for the Royals. He gave up single runs in the second and seventh innings but, as usual, was tough with runners on base. He forced the Cardinals to strand 10.
Carpenter's first four hits were against Vargas. He drove in one run and scored the other. Then his extra-inning double against Herrera started the Cardinals on their way to victory.
"That's the way the game goes sometimes, and we did a good job of finding a way to win it. We could have very easily just packed it in and lost this game tonight, but we didn't feel sorry for ourselves, we kept battling," Carpenter said.
But so did the Royals, who seemed about to wilt to the dominating Wainwright.
"We fight to the end," Cain said. "We show that we have heart and guys that are willing to fight to the end, and that's the kind of players you want on the team. We're going to continue to do that the rest of the season, and hopefully we can steal a lot of victories that way."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.