Cardinals move closer to wild card on Monday

Jaime Garcia

Jaime Garcia led the Cardinals over the Reds Monday night with his pitching and hitting as the team's magic number dropped to one for the second NL wild card berth.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Not only did Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia have Cincinnati's number, he had that of Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo, too.

 

Garcia, 8-2 against the Reds in his career, stopped them on two runs for 6 2/3 innings Monday night in a 4-2 Cardinals win that put their magic number at one for a National League wild-card berth.

 

Garcia trailed only once, briefly, in the game when he allowed a Reds run in the top of the third. A home run in the Cardinals' third canceled that Cincinnati lead, and the Cardinals would add on two runs in the inning. The homer was by Garcia himself, his first of the season, second of his career and extended his batting mark against Arroyo to 5-for-5.

 

"I knew that. I'm not going to lie to you," said Garcia.

 

As the defending World Series Cardinals have roared down the stretch, winning 11 of their last 14 games, so, too, has Garcia after missing two months because of shoulder issues. He is 3-0 over his last four starts.

 

After the Cardinals won their game, they repaired to their lunch room to watch for some two hours as the Los Angeles Dodgers stayed alive in the wild-card race with a 3-2 win over San Francisco.

 

But how fitting it is, then, that the Cardinals will send longtime ace right-hander Chris Carpenter to the mound on Tuesday night to try to wrap up the berth. Carpenter, remarkably recovered from July 19 surgery to alleviate a nerve condition affecting his neck and right shoulder, will be seeking his first win of the season.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

RHP Jason Motte, the fourth Cardinals reliever to have 40 saves, recorded his 41st of the season with a perfect, two-strikeout ninth inning. But Motte, who got the last out of the 2011 World Series, was more interested in team goals. "We're one step closer (to the playoffs)," he said.

2B Daniel Descalso, though hitting in the .220s, stroked his club-leading seventh triple to drive in C Yadier Molina from first in the sixth inning. "I think I can run a little bit," said Descalso. "When I hit a ball in the gap, I'm thinking 'triple' 'til they tell me to stop."

LHP Jaime Garcia is 3-0 with a 2.10 earned run in his last four starts. Garcia allowed just two runs over 6 2/3 innings on Monday, and manager Mike Matheny said, "He looked good right from the beginning. When you see Yadi (catcher Yadier Molina) have trouble catching him, you know the ball is moving all over the place."

3B David Freese, making his second straight start after missing nearly a week with a right ankle sprain, had his first hit since returning but also committed a throwing error.

RHP Mitchell Boggs, the eighth-inning man, completed his eighth consecutive scoreless appearance. Boggs, a veteran of last year's World Series run, said, "You play all season for the opportunity to extend your season."

By the Numbers:

.406 - 1B Allen Craig's batting average with men in scoring position after a run-scoring double in the third inning.

Quote to Note:

"We knew that if we played as capable as we can play, we're as good as anybody in the league."

- RHP Mitchell Boggs, on the Cardinals making a late season run for the second consecutive season.

MEDICAL WATCH

LF Matt Holliday (bruised left elbow) was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game in the sixth inning Sept. 28. X-rays were negative and Holliday returned to the lineup Sept. 30.

RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) was injured Sept. 8, and he probably is out for the rest of the regular season. He encountered discomfort in a bullpen session Sept. 22 in Chicago and had to stop throwing. "If I do get the opportunity to pitch (in postseason)," he said, "I think it would have to be out of the bullpen."

3B David Freese (sprained right ankle) missed his fifth straight game Sept. 29 but returned Sept. 30.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) underwent additional surgery Sept. 14 and was thought to be out for the season, but he said he still wants to try to play.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife, but as of Sept. 19 he still hadn't been able to do any baseball activities. Furcal plans to meet with doctors the week of Oct. 1 to see whether he can begin a throwing program.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10. McClellan will begin a throwing program in early November.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 4, Cincinnati 2

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