|St. Louis (87-73) «||0||0||3||0||0||1||0||0||x||4||9||1|
The St. Louis Cardinals are almost there, clinching a tie for the second NL wild card and spoiling Dusty Baker's return from a mini-stroke with a 4-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
"I'm excited," Garcia said. "It's a huge win for us."
After winning for the 11th time in 14 games, the defending World Series champions stayed at Busch Stadium more than two hours after the final pitch to watch the Dodgers snap a ninth-inning tie and beat the Giants 3-2 to avoid elimination. The plan for a late-night delayed victory party had been somewhat muted, with five cases of champagne on ice instead of the usual overkill of 20 cases of champagne and 20 cases of beer.
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A loss by the Dodgers or another Cardinals win would wrap up a playoff spot for St. Louis and a visit to Atlanta for the wild-card game Friday. Both teams have two games to go.
"It's different with this one-game playoff looming over our heads if we get there," second baseman Daniel Descalso said. "I wouldn't expect a raucous celebration but, you know, some celebration is in order if we do clinch it."
First-year manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak, dress shoes propped on an end table, watched the game in the manager's office.
"One step closer," Matheny said. "Too early to start going there."
Arroyo (12-10) threw 73 pitches while allowing three runs over five innings in a tuneup for the postseason after learning beforehand from Baker that he wouldn't go deep into the game. Arroyo topped 200 innings for the seventh time but is 0-3 in his past four starts.
"He talked to us about going shorter, but it doesn't matter, it doesn't take the sting out of it," Arroyo said. "We could be 160-0 and a loss is a loss is a loss. It sits there on the back of my baseball card until I die."
The Reds are 96-64, tied with the Nationals for the best record in the National League with two games to go, and must finish ahead of Washington to get home-field advantage throughout the postseason after losing the season series.
"It was a matter of trying to win the game, but trying to get your guys fresh at the same time," Baker said. "Right now, we're about preservation and conservation."
Baker missed 11 games, including the NL Central clincher and Homer Bailey's no-hitter, while recovering from a stroke in a Chicago hospital that he had while being treated for an irregular heartbeat. He appeared noticeably fatigued after the game and spoke briefly.
Garcia (7-7) made it 5 for 5 at the plate against Arroyo when he led off the third with a drive that just cleared the right-field wall for his second career home run, although the perfect run ended when he flied out to end the fourth.
"I knew. I'm not going to lie to you. I faced him the last couple years and I knew I was 4 for 4," Garcia said. "He's a really good pitcher and he made a mistake and I put a good swing on the ball."
Allen Craig and Yadier Molina added an RBI apiece in a three-run third, and Descalso had an RBI triple in the sixth that made it 4-1. Jason Motte worked a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 41st save in 48 chances.
Garcia gave up six hits, including three singles in a span of four at-bats in the third, with Brandon Phillips getting an RBI. Scott Rolen doubled, advanced on a passed ball and scored on Ryan Hanigan's sacrifice fly in the seventh.
The lefty has been a major asset at home throughout his career, going 20-11 with a 2.48 ERA at Busch Stadium, the lowest career mark of any pitcher with 10 or more starts, including 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA in nine starts this year. He's 3-5 with a 5.02 ERA in 11 road starts this year and 14-12 with a 4.47 ERA overall.
|Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia goes down the reception line after helping his own cause with a solo home run. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Brandon Phillips, 2B||4||0||1||1||0||0||1||.283|
|Wilson Valdez, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.203|
|Zack Cozart, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.249|
|Joey Votto, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.339|
|Ryan Ludwick, LF||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.277|
|Alfredo Simon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Xavier Paul, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.310|
|J.J. Hoover, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jay Bruce, RF||4||0||1||0||0||2||0||.251|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||2||1||.243|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||2||0||0||1||1||1||0||.275|
|Drew Stubbs, CF||3||1||2||0||0||1||1||.216|
|Bronson Arroyo, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.143|
|Chris Heisey, LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.267|
|a-flied out for Simon in the 8th|
|2B - Scott Rolen (17, Garcia)|
|SF - Ryan Hanigan (3)|
|SH - Bronson Arroyo (6)|
|RBI - Brandon Phillips (77), Ryan Hanigan (24)|
|2-OUT RBI - Brandon Phillips (28)|
|CS - Jay Bruce (3, 2nd base by Garcia/Molina)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Rolen-B. Phillips-Votto|
|Bronson Arroyo (L,12-10)||5||6||3||3||1||6||1||3.74|
|Pitches-Strikes - Bronson Arroyo 73-45, Alfredo Simon 37-19, J.J. Hoover 8-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bronson Arroyo 5-3, Alfredo Simon 3-1, J.J. Hoover 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Bronson Arroyo 21, Alfredo Simon 10, J.J. Hoover 3|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.303|
|Carlos Beltran, RF||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.271|
|Matt Holliday, LF||3||1||2||0||1||1||0||.294|
|Allen Craig, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.310|
|Yadier Molina, C||3||1||1||1||0||0||2||.317|
|David Freese, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.294|
|Jason Motte, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Daniel Descalso, 2B||4||0||1||1||0||1||1||.228|
|Pete Kozma, SS||2||0||0||0||1||1||1||.328|
|Jaime Garcia, P||3||1||1||1||0||0||2||.250|
|Edward Mujica, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mitchell Boggs, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Matt Carpenter, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.295|
|2B - Allen Craig (35, Arroyo)|
|3B - Daniel Descalso (7, Simon)|
|HR - Jaime Garcia (1, Arroyo)|
|SF - Yadier Molina (5)|
|RBI - Allen Craig (92), Yadier Molina (76), Daniel Descalso (26), Jaime Garcia (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Daniel Descalso (11)|
|CS - Carlos Beltran (6, 3rd base by Simon/Hanigan)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Molina-Descalso|
|PB - Yadier Molina (6)|
|E - David Freese (18, Throwing)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jaime Garcia (W,7-7)||6.2||6||2||2||1||6||0||3.92|
|Edward Mujica (H,30)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.03|
|Mitchell Boggs (H,34)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.21|
|Jason Motte (S,41)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||2.78|
|WP - Jaime Garcia (12)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jaime Garcia 90-62, Edward Mujica 5-2, Mitchell Boggs 17-12, Jason Motte 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jaime Garcia 10-3, Mitchell Boggs 2-2, Jason Motte 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Jaime Garcia 26, Edward Mujica 1, Mitchell Boggs 4, Jason Motte 3|
|Attendance - 38480|
|Game Time - 2:38|
|Temperature - 65|
|Umpires - Home - Brian O'Nora, First Base - Chad Fairchild, Second Base - Alfonso Marquez, Third Base - Tom Hallion|