Cardinals blow late lead, lose 5-4 to Cubs in 11
CHICAGO (AP) — It was all going so well for St. Louis. Chris Carpenter had a solid 2012 debut and Pete Kozma swiped home for the go-ahead run, putting the Cardinals in position to extend their timely winning streak.
Then it all fell apart in a hurry.
Darwin Barney connected for a tying two-run homer off Fernando Salas with two out in the ninth inning and David DeJesus hit a game-ending single in the 11th to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 5-4 victory on Friday.
DeJesus came to the plate with two out and lined an 0-2 pitch from Joe Kelly (5-6) into right field to score pinch-runner Brett Jackson.
Alberto Cabrera (1-1) struck out two in a perfect 11th to earn his first career victory.
The Cardinals had won four in a row and entered Friday with a 2½-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the second NL wild card.
"We got to a two-run lead with two strikes in the ninth, but wouldn't finish it off," manager Mike Matheny said.
Carpenter threw five effective innings and was in line for the win until Barney drove a 1-2 pitch from Salas into the left-field bleachers. Salas allowed a single to DeJesus with two outs and nobody on after getting two strikes on him, too.
"I made the pitches I wanted to make," Salas said. "It was a fastball in to DeJesus and a soft hit and then Barney was bad luck. He made good contact."
The Cardinals' regular closer, Jason Motte, was unavailable after pitching three days in a row and four out of the last five.
"He's been very, very good for us lately and he's been in that situation before so it's a good fit," Matheny said of Salas. "You can look at a pitch now and say it should have been somewhere else, but it's easy to do now."
Carpenter threw 77 pitches, with a light rain falling throughout the game. The 37-year-old allowed two runs and five hits, struck out two and walked one.
"My stuff wasn't as sharp as I'd like and it wasn't as sharp as it's been in the simulated games," Carpenter said. "But I tried to get as many outs as I could and give us a chance. It was fun to get back out there. Hopefully my stuff will get better and sharper as I get out there more often."
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