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St. Louis at Atlanta

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St. Louis (15-11) «000200001025100
Atlanta (13-14)200000100003101

Punto's triple in 11th lifts Cards over Braves

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- On a tough day for the Braves, Nick Punto just added to their misery.

Punto drove in two runs with an 11th-inning triple after St. Louis rallied in the ninth, giving the surging Cardinals a 5-3 victory over Atlanta on Friday night.

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Braves rookie Cory Gearrin (0-1) dug his own hole, plunking Ryan Theriot in the left leg and walking pinch-hitter Mark Hamilton. The right-hander was one out away from escaping, but Punto drove one into the right-field corner for the first big league hit allowed by Gearrin in 4 2/3 innings since being called up.

"I was looking for a fastball. I got a fastball, middle in, and put some good wood on it," Punto said. "It didn't hit anybody. It landed in the corner, so we got a couple of runs."

Eduardo Sanchez (1-0) earned his first big league win with two scoreless innings. Trever Miller got the final out for his first save, retiring Nate McLouth on a drive to the warning track with a runner aboard.

"A hellacious game," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "I can't feel better about our club."

In the ninth, Yadier Molina and Ryan Theriot reached on singles against hard-throwing Braves closer Craig Kimbrel before Daniel Descalso tied it up with a sacrifice fly, his second RBI of the game.

The Cardinals got an extra chance for the go-ahead run when first baseman Freddie Freeman botched a slow roller. But shortstop Alex Gonzalez picked up his teammate with a brilliant defensive play, going to one knee to snare Colby Rasmus' bullet up the middle.

It didn't matter. St. Louis won it two innings later, its 13th win in 18 games since starting 2-6.

"Our whole club feels good," La Russa said. "Everybody contributed."

Jason Heyward homered in the first and McLouth put the Braves ahead 3-2 with a tie-breaking shot in the seventh. Atlanta couldn't hold the lead, capping a tough day with a tough loss and missing a chance to go above .500 for the first time since April 5.

A win would've helped the Braves feel a bit better after Derek Lowe was arrested the previous night on a drunken-driving charge, and pitching coach Roger McDowell was placed on administrative leave while the team investigated allegations that he made homophobic slurs, lewd gestures and threatened a fan with a bat before a game last weekend.

"Obviously, it was a more melodramatic day than usual," said Braves starter Tim Hudson, who pitched six strong innings. "But tomorrow is a new day. We'll come out and try to win that one."

The Braves jumped on Chris Carpenter in the very first inning.

Heyward got it started, lining a 1-1 pitch into the right-field seats for his seventh homer of the season. Chipper Jones followed with a double, then Dan Uggla came through with two outs, going the opposite way for a run-scoring double into the right-field corner.

Carpenter settled down after that, not allowing a runner past first base until McLouth struck in the seventh. He drove a 1-0 pitch into the Braves' bullpen, his first homer since Sept. 18, 2010, and another promising sign that he's put last year's miserable season behind him.

"His at-bats have been good since day one," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Atlanta had a chance to break it open, loading the bases with one out. But, after walking Jones intentionally, Carpenter got Brian McCann to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Cardinals starter pitched around 10 hits in seven innings.

"It would've been good to win this one, but it's not the end of the world," Gonzalez said. "We had some opportunities, but didn't add on runs. Those will get you."

Hudson, who came within one out of a complete game in his previous start at San Francisco, pitched six-hit ball. he couldn't hold the 2-0 lead, giving up four singles in the fourth. Molina had a sacrifice fly, and Descalso tied it up with a two-out, run-scoring hit to right.

Notes

  • Dave Wallace, the Braves minor league pitching coordinator, took over for McDowell.
  • RHP Peter Moylan still hasn't resumed throwing, two weeks after going on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his back.
  • La Russa is dealing with a lingering case of conjunctivitis. He contracted the eye ailment about 2 1/2 weeks ago. "I just can't shake it," he said. "I don't mind dealing with it. I'm just tired of it."
  • The Braves brought up IF-OF Joe Mather from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned RHP Jairo Acensio to the minors. Mather came up as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, failing to get down a bunt on two tries, then taking a called third strike.
  • The Cardinals improved to 1-2 in extra-inning games, while Atlanta dropped to 1-3.
 
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 Cardinals' Tyler Greene looks back while rounding second base to score on a sacrifice fly in the ninth. (AP)
The Cardinals' Tyler Greene looks back while rounding second base to score on a sacrifice fly in the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

J. Heyward
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
St. Louis

N. Punto
AB 6
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Nick Punto, 2B6012001 .200
Colby Rasmus, CF4000214 .303
Albert Pujols, 1B5110000 .255
Matt Holliday, LF5010022 .417
Lance Berkman, RF4110101 .402
Yadier Molina, C3021000 .289
    Tyler Greene, PR0100000 .269
    Gerald Laird, C1000000 .240
Ryan Theriot, SS4120001 .319
Daniel Descalso, 3B4012011 .229
Chris Carpenter, P3010012 .167
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
   a- Jon Jay, PH1000000 .241
    Eduardo Sanchez, P0000000 .000
   b- Mark Hamilton, PH0100100 .400
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
Totals40510545  
a-grounded out for Boggs in the 9th
b-walked for Sanchez in the 11th
Batting
3B - Nick Punto (1, Gearrin)
SF - Yadier Molina (1), Daniel Descalso (2)
RBI - Nick Punto 2 (5), Yadier Molina (11), Daniel Descalso 2 (6)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Punto 2 (4), Daniel Descalso (3)
CS - Colby Rasmus (1, 2nd base by Venters/McCann)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Descalso-Punto-Pujols, Punto-Theriot-Pujols, Descalso-Punto-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Chris Carpenter 71033232 3.89
Mitchell Boggs 1000000 1.98
Eduardo Sanchez (W,1-0) 2000130 1.80
Jason Motte (H,4) 0.2000120 1.54
Trever Miller (S,1) 0.1000000 4.15
IBB - Jones by Chris Carpenter
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 109-61, Mitchell Boggs 10-5, Eduardo Sanchez 25-17, Jason Motte 16-9, Trever Miller 7-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 8-8, Mitchell Boggs 2-1, Eduardo Sanchez 2-0
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 31, Mitchell Boggs 3, Eduardo Sanchez 6, Jason Motte 3, Trever Miller 1
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Martin Prado, LF5010002 .243
Jason Heyward, RF5121020 .263
Chipper Jones, 3B4110110 .287
Brian McCann, C5010012 .303
Dan Uggla, 2B4021101 .192
Freddie Freeman, 1B4000112 .227
Alex Gonzalez, SS5010012 .228
Nate McLouth, CF4121102 .255
Tim Hudson, P2000012 .000
    Eric O'Flaherty, P0000000 .000
   a- Brooks Conrad, PH1000000 .083
    Jonny Venters, P0000000 .000
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
   b- Joe Mather, PH1000011 .000
    Cory Gearrin, P0000000 .000
    George Sherrill, P0000000 .000
Totals40310348  
a-flied out for O'Flaherty in the 7th
b-struck out for Kimbrel in the 9th
Batting
2B - Chipper Jones (8, Carpenter), Dan Uggla (3, Carpenter)
HR - Jason Heyward (7, Carpenter), Nate McLouth (1, Carpenter)
RBI - Jason Heyward (14), Dan Uggla (9), Nate McLouth (7)
2-OUT RBI - Dan Uggla (3)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Jones-Uggla-Freeman
E - Freddie Freeman (1, Misplayed grounder)
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Tim Hudson 6622230 3.48
Eric O'Flaherty 1000000 1.42
Jonny Venters (H,7) 1100100 0.66
Craig Kimbrel (BS,2) 1211000 1.59
Cory Gearrin (L,0-1) 1.2122120 3.86
George Sherrill 0.1000000 3.60
HBP - Theriot (by Cory Gearrin)
Pitches-Strikes - Tim Hudson 99-53, Eric O'Flaherty 15-9, Jonny Venters 20-12, Craig Kimbrel 16-11, Cory Gearrin 30-16, George Sherrill 6-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Hudson 10-4, Eric O'Flaherty 2-1, Jonny Venters 1-1, Craig Kimbrel 3-1, Cory Gearrin 3-0
Batters Faced - Tim Hudson 25, Eric O'Flaherty 3, Jonny Venters 4, Craig Kimbrel 6, Cory Gearrin 8, George Sherrill 1
Game Information
Attendance - 40279
Game Time - 3:29
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Tim McClelland, First Base - Marvin Hudson, Second Base - Ted Barrett, Third Base - Brian Runge