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Eckstein rescues Cards from Braves with walk-off slam

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

ST. LOUIS -- David Eckstein won two games with squeeze bunts in July. On Sunday, he shocked the Atlanta Braves with the long ball.

The diminutive St. Louis Cardinals' leadoff hitter hit a grand slam off Chris Reitsma with one out in the ninth inning for a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday. He hit his fourth career grand slam and the second game-winning slam of his career on a 1-0 pitch from Reitsma (3-3), who had entered the game with nine straight saves.

"Once in a while," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said, "you get a miracle."

The 5-foot-7 Eckstein hit a drive over the left-field wall that helped the Cardinals take two of three in a series matching NL division leaders and the teams with the two best records in the league.

Abraham Nunez and So Taguchi singled and pinch-hitter Hector Luna reached on an infield hit that glanced off Reitsma's glove to start the ninth. Pinch-hitter Scott Seabol popped up before the game-winner from Eckstein, who also doubled, walked twice and stole a base.

"I didn't even watch it, I ran," Eckstein said. "That's probably all I've got right there."

Ray King (3-2) got the last out in the top of the ninth in relief of 16-game winner Chris Carpenter, who allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks. Carpenter missed the manic celebration at home plate, watching the festivities from the clubhouse as he iced his arm.

"There were a few guys in here that went crazy just like they did out there," Carpenter said. "It was a great ending."

The winning grand slam was the Cardinals' first since Tommy Herr beat the New York Mets on April 18, 1987, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was Eckstein's first game-winning slam since he connected off Toronto's Pedro Borbon on April 28, 2002, with his second grand slam in two days when he was playing for the Angels.

Not surprisingly for a small guy, he prefers the squeeze.

"You like to win the game but there's something about the squeeze play," Eckstein said. "It's do or die. I get more opportunity to do that, too."

Reitsma blamed himself for trying to get to Luna's grounder.

"If I let that go, maybe we turn two," he said. "You just react in that situation and it hit the top of my glove."

He also said Eckstein hit a mistake pitch.

"I was trying to get it down a little bit," Reitsma said. "I just let it out there. What can you say- it was a bad pitch. It seems like every time I give up a home run it's a big one."

Braves starter Jorge Sosa allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings and the Braves got home runs from Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur, who drove in another run with a ninth-inning double off Jason Isringhausen.

Albert Pujols added his 31st homer for the Cardinals, who completed a 4-3 homestand.

Carpenter, who hasn't lost in 10 starts since June 8, gave up only one hit in his last six innings. He allowed two homers in a start for only the second time this season, and the first since May 2 at Cincinnati.

Johnson hit his eighth homer on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the first and Francoeur hit his eighth in only 22 major league games leading off the second.

The Cardinals were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position during Sosa's stint, with Pujols stranding two runners in the first and leaving a man on third with one out in the third on a pair of popups. Pujols took out his frustration on Kyle Farnsworth with a homer to straightaway center in the eighth, cutting the gap to one.

Notes

  • Francoeur is 16-for-39 during a nine-game hitting streak with three homers.
  • A crowd of 47,714 was the Cardinals' 28th sellout and their 21st straight crowd of more than 40,000. They drew 318,389 for the seven-game homestand.
  • Chipper Jones, out since Tuesday with a strained right rotator cuff, missed his fifth straight game.
  • Before Sunday, Reitsma had earned a save or a victory in 11 of 12 outings.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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The 5-foot-7 David Eckstein is mobbed by teammates after his second career game-winning grand slam.  (AP)
The 5-foot-7 David Eckstein is mobbed by teammates after his second career game-winning grand slam. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

D. Eckstein
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
Atlanta

J. Francoeur
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 

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Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS4000021 .271
Kelly Johnson, LF3111120 .228
Marcus Giles, 2B3110000 .305
Andruw Jones, CF2000210 .273
Adam LaRoche, 1B4000003 .257
Jeff Francoeur, RF4122020 .403
Brian McCann, C3010010 .297
Wilson Betemit, 3B3010110 .308
Jorge Sosa, P2000011 .063
   a- Pete Orr, PH1000000 .303
    Kyle Farnsworth, P0000000 .000
    John Foster, P0000000 .000
    Chris Reitsma, P1000003 .000
Totals303634108 
a-grounded out for Sosa in the 8th
Batting
2B - Jeff Francoeur (8, Isringhausen)
HR - Kelly Johnson (8, Carpenter), Jeff Francoeur (8, Carpenter)
SH - Marcus Giles (2)
RBI - Kelly Johnson (32), Jeff Francoeur 2 (21)
2-OUT RBI - Jeff Francoeur (8)
SB - Marcus Giles (13, 2nd base off Isringhausen/Mahoney)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
PB - Brian McCann (2)
Atlanta Braves
Jorge Sosa 7400250 2.36
Kyle Farnsworth (H,17) 0.2111001 2.53
John Foster0000100 3.68
Chris Reitsma (BS,5; L,3-3) 0.2444001 3.67
Pitches-Strikes - Jorge Sosa 87-57, Kyle Farnsworth 12-9, John Foster 7-3, Chris Reitsma 25-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jorge Sosa 5-11, Kyle Farnsworth 1-1, Chris Reitsma 1-1
Batters Faced - Jorge Sosa 27, Kyle Farnsworth 3, John Foster 1, Chris Reitsma 6
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS3124200 .272
John Rodriguez, LF4010022 .333
Albert Pujols, 1B4111003 .343
Jim Edmonds, CF3010101 .270
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4000014 .297
Abraham Nunez, 3B4110011 .306
So Taguchi, RF4120000 .280
Mike Mahoney, C3000011 .182
   a- Hector Luna, PH1110000 .263
Chris Carpenter, P3000001 .037
    Jason Isringhausen, P0000000 .000
    Ray King, P0000000 .000
   b- Scott Seabol, PH1000003 .234
Totals345953516 
a-singled for Mahoney in the 9th
b-lined out for King in the 9th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein (16, Sosa), Jim Edmonds (26, Sosa), So Taguchi (12, Sosa)
HR - David Eckstein (5, Reitsma), Albert Pujols (31, Farnsworth)
RBI - David Eckstein 4 (38), Albert Pujols (89)
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (28)
SB - David Eckstein (8, 2nd base off Sosa/McCann)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - So Taguchi 1
DP - Grudzielanek-Eckstein-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
Chris Carpenter 84222102 2.26
Jason Isringhausen 0.2211100 1.86
Ray King (W,3-2) 0.1000100 3.30
HBP - McCann (by Ray King)
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 113-75, Jason Isringhausen 12-6, Ray King 9-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 6-7, Jason Isringhausen 1-0, Ray King 1-0
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 29, Jason Isringhausen 4, Ray King 3
Game Information
Attendance - 47714
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 88
Umpires - Home - Dan Iassogna, First Base - Dale Scott, Second Base - Tim Tschida, Third Base - Ron Kulpa