September 22, 2011: Six Runs in 9th Shock Cardinals

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Date: September 22, 2011
Mets starter: Chris Capuano
Mets: 8
Cardinals: 6
Winning pitcher: Manny Acosta
Key player(s): Ruben Tejada, Willie Harris
Key play: Tejada’s double, Harris’s single

The Mets faced the Cardinals on a Thursday afternoon in St. Louis. The teams played the finale of a three-game series at Busch Stadium. The Mets scored six runs in the ninth inning for an 8-6 win over the stunned Redbirds.

Cardinals’ starter Jake Westbrook pitched a perfect top of the first inning. Rafael Furcal singled off the Mets’ Chris Capuano to open the bottom half. An ensuing home run by Allen Craig gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead. Albert Pujols was retired on a line drive to left fielder Willie Harris. Capuano struck out Lance Berkman and issued a walk to David Freese. Yadier Molina then hit a grounder in front of home plate on which Capuano threw to first baseman Nick Evans for the final out of the inning.

Westbrook and Capuano each pitched scoreless ball from the second inning to the fourth. With one out in the top of the fifth, Josh Thole and Mike Baxter got back-to-back singles. Westbrook fanned Capuano and a walk to Jose Reyes loaded the bases. Westbrook issued a walk to Ruben Tejada that forced home Thole. Angel Pagan then hit a ground ball to first baseman Pujols for the third out.

Pujols hit a two-out homer for a 3-1 Cardinals lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Berkman and Freese followed with consecutive singles to center field. Molina singled to drive home Berkman for the Redbirds’ fourth run of the game. Mets’ reliever Ryota Igarashi came in and got Ryan Theriot on an inning-ending line drive to right fielder Baxter. Westbrook shut down the Mets in the top of the sixth. Igarashi then pitched a scoreless bottom half.

St. Louis reliever Arthur Rhodes set down the Mets 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh. Freese doubled off the Mets’ Josh Stinson with one out in the bottom of the inning. Molina hit a double to score pinch-runner Daniel Descalso. Theriot grounded out to shortstop Reyes to send Molina to third. Pinch-hitter Tyler Greene singled off Mets’ reliever Danny Herrera to drive home Molina and stretch the Cards’ lead to 6-1. Herrera then retired pinch-hitter Tony Cruz on a fly ball to center fielder Pagan to end the inning.

Against reliever Octavio Dotel, Tejada singled and moved to second base on an error by center fielder Adron Chambers with one out in the top of the eighth. Dotel threw a wild pitch on which Ruben advanced to third. Tejada came home on catcher Molina’s passed ball for the Mets’ second run. Dotel followed up by striking out Pagan and David Wright to close out the inning. Mets’ reliever Manny Acosta then retired all three St. Louis hitters in the bottom half.

Cardinals’ reliever Jason Motte walked Harris to start the top of the ninth inning. Evans reached on an error by shortstop Furcal. Thole flied out to Chambers and a walk to Jason Pridie loaded the bases. Pinch-hitter Justin Turner drew a walk to force home Harris. Motte was replaced on the mound by Marc Rzepczynski. Reyes hit a single that scored Evans to cut the St. Louis lead to 6-4. Fernando Salas then came in to pitch for the Redbirds.

Tejada greeted Salas with a double to bring home Pridie and Turner with the tying runs. Pagan was given an intentional walk to reload the bases and Salas struck out Wright. Harris followed with a single that plated Reyes and Tejada to give the Mets a two-run lead. Evans was then retired on an inning-ending fly ball to Chambers.

Mets’ reliever Bobby Parnell struck out pinch-hitter Nick Punto to begin the bottom of the ninth. Descalso was retired on a fly ball to Pagan. Parnell then got Molina to fly out to right fielder Pridie and end the game. The Mets had pulled out a miracle victory, giving a jolt to the Cardinals in their quest for a post-season berth.