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St. Louis at Atlanta

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St. Louis (16-11) «000000021360
Atlanta (13-15)000020000260

Laird's triple caps rally as Cardinals top Braves

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Craig Kimbrel felt as if he let the Braves down for the second straight game.

One day after suffering his second blown save, Kimbrel couldn't hold a tie in the ninth as Gerald Laird's triple capped a late rally to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-2 win over Atlanta on Saturday.

"I'm leaving pitches over the plate and they're hitting them," said Kimbrel, in his first season as the Braves' closer. "I'm letting the leadoff runner get on and that's probably one of the most important guys to get out if I'm going to get into a rhythm with my pitching. I haven't done that in my last two outings and it's shown.

"I feel like I've let the team down the last two games. I'm going to come in tomorrow and try to do my job."

Backed by rookie Brandon Beachy's seven scoreless innings to start the game, the Braves led 2-0 before St. Louis began its comeback. David Freese tied the game with a two-run single in the eighth before Laird's go-ahead triple drove in Matt Holliday.

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Kimbrel (0-1) had a blown save in the Braves' 5-3 loss to the Cardinals in 11 innings on Friday night.

More trouble for the right-hander came when he couldn't hold a 2-2 tie in the ninth.

Holliday led off with a single to right, advanced to second on catcher Brian McCann's passed ball, and scored on Laird's one-out triple to left.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez noted Kimbrel is just a rookie who was pitching in only his 33rd game. He said he has not lost confidence in the right-hander.

"He's the guy," Gonzalez said, adding Kimbrel's limited experience in the major leagues is "equivalent to 60 at-bats."

George Sherrill, who took over for Kimbrel, struck out Lance Berkman with the bases loaded to end the ninth. Kimbrel gave up two hits and one run in one-third of an inning.

Right-hander Fernando Salas struck out two in the ninth for his second save. Salas walked Nate McLouth with two outs before ending the game on pinch-hitter Eric Hinske's fly ball to left field.

Salas is one of four relievers to record saves in the Cardinals' last five wins, joining Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez and Trever Miller.

"He's the guy who was available today," said manager Tony La Russa of Salas.

The Cardinals have won four straight and 14 of their last 19 to move into first place in the NL Central.

"You like to win by 10 runs, but to come out and win two big games like this, coming back shows a lot," Laird said.

Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez was ejected by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson for arguing a called third strike from Salas for the second out in the ninth. Fredi Gonzalez picked up the argument and also was tossed.

Miguel Batista (2-1) escaped an eighth-inning jam. Jason Heyward hit a one-out double off the right-field wall. Batista walked Chipper Jones intentionally. Colby Rasmus ran down Brian McCann's deep fly ball on the warning track in center field, and Freese snagged Dan Uggla's line drive to end the inning.

The Cardinals have won four straight, including the first two games of the series.

Beachy gave up three hits and two runs in seven-plus innings. He didn't allow a baserunner past first base until the eighth inning.

Daniel Descalso led off with a double. Beachy was pulled after he walked Tyler Greene.

Nick Punto advanced the runners with a sacrifice against left-hander Jonny Venters, who struck out pinch-hitter Berkman. Freese followed with a tying two-run single to right field.

Georgia native Jake Westbrook gave up five hits and two runs in six innings for St. Louis. Westbrook walked three batters, leaving him with 19 walks over 30 1/3 innings.

Martin Prado had two doubles, including a two-run liner past Freese at third base that drove in Gonzalez and McLouth in the fifth.

Beachy retired the first 10 batters before giving up a single to Freese with one out in the fourth. Beachy ended the inning, leaving Freese on first base, on Albert Pujols' fly ball to left field and Holliday's grounder to third base.

Notes

  • RF Jon Jay was 0-for-2 hitting leadoff for only the second time this season.
  • Jones said he is still experiencing discomfort in his right knee when swinging as a right-handed hitter. He'll test the knee on Sunday when hitting from the right side against left-hander Jaime Garcia.
  • Westbrook, born in Athens, Ga., lives about 90 minutes from Atlanta in Danielsville, Ga.
 
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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For the second straight night, Craig Kimbrel's inability to hold a tie in the ninth costs Atlanta the game.  (Getty Images)
For the second straight night, Craig Kimbrel's inability to hold a tie in the ninth costs Atlanta the game. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

D. Freese
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Atlanta

M. Prado
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jon Jay, RF2000000 .226
   a- Lance Berkman, PH-RF2000025 .393
David Freese, 3B4022011 .365
    Miguel Batista, P0000000 .000
    Fernando Salas, P0000000 .000
Albert Pujols, 1B4000013 .245
Matt Holliday, LF4110001 .408
Colby Rasmus, CF4010021 .301
Gerald Laird, C4011001 .241
Daniel Descalso, 2B-3B3110101 .235
Tyler Greene, SS2100111 .250
   b- Mark Hamilton, PH0000000 .400
   c- Ryan Theriot, PH-SS1000002 .316
Jake Westbrook, P2000010 .154
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
   d- Nick Punto, PH-2B0000100 .200
Totals3236338  
a-struck out for Jay in the 8th
b-announced for T. Greene in the 9th
c-flied out for Hamilton in the 9th
d-hit a sacrifice bunt for Boggs in the 8th
Batting
2B - Daniel Descalso (5, Beachy)
3B - Gerald Laird (1, Kimbrel)
SH - Nick Punto (3)
RBI - David Freese 2 (14), Gerald Laird (2)
2-OUT RBI - David Freese 2 (6)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Freese-Descalso-Pujols
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jake Westbrook 6522310 6.53
Mitchell Boggs 1000000 1.84
Miguel Batista (W,2-1) 1100100 0.75
Fernando Salas (S,2) 1000120 0.96
IBB - Jones by Miguel Batista
Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 106-66, Mitchell Boggs 16-9, Miguel Batista 20-9, Fernando Salas 18-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 10-5, Mitchell Boggs 1-2, Miguel Batista 1-2
Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 24, Mitchell Boggs 3, Miguel Batista 5, Fernando Salas 4
Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Martin Prado, LF4022000 .252
Jason Heyward, RF4010001 .263
Chipper Jones, 3B2000200 .281
Brian McCann, C4010013 .301
Dan Uggla, 2B4010003 .194
Freddie Freeman, 1B4000011 .217
Alex Gonzalez, SS3110110 .231
Nate McLouth, CF2100201 .250
Brandon Beachy, P2000000 .000
    Jonny Venters, P0000000 .000
    Craig Kimbrel, P0000000 .000
    George Sherrill, P0000000 .000
   a- Eric Hinske, PH1000001 .269
Totals3026253  
a-flied out for Sherrill in the 9th
Batting
2B - Martin Prado 2 (9, Westbrook, Westbrook), Jason Heyward (3, Batista)
SH - Brandon Beachy (2)
RBI - Martin Prado 2 (12)
2-OUT RBI - Martin Prado 2 (5)
CS - Jason Heyward (1, 2nd base by Westbrook/Laird)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
PB - Brian McCann (3)
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Brandon Beachy 7322150 3.47
Jonny Venters (BS,1) 1100010 0.61
Craig Kimbrel (L,0-1) 0.1211110 2.31
George Sherrill 0.2000110 3.18
IBB - Descalso by Craig Kimbrel
HBP - Jay (by Brandon Beachy)
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Beachy 97-66, Jonny Venters 12-8, Craig Kimbrel 15-8, George Sherrill 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Beachy 2-14, Jonny Venters 2-0
Batters Faced - Brandon Beachy 26, Jonny Venters 4, Craig Kimbrel 4, George Sherrill 3
Game Information
Attendance - 30546
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 76
Umpires - Home - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Ted Barrett, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Tim McClelland