The St. Louis Cardinals kept the heat on Atlanta in the race for the National League's wild card berth on Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs that came courtesy of a walk and a wild pitch in the ninth inning.
The Cardinals narrowed the gap on Atlanta to two games after the Braves lost 4-1 to Washington, while in the American League wild card race, Tampa Bay closed to 1 games on Boston and the Los Angeles Angels maintained their slim hopes with a 4-2 win over Oakland. The Angles trail Boston by 2 games.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, St Louis's stunning comeback started when pinch runner Tyler Greene stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Cubs catcher Geovany Soto.
With the bases loaded, Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol walked Ryan Theriot to bring home Greene for the tying run and then threw the game away with a wild pitch that allowed Adron Chambers to score the winning run from third base.
We have to win every single game, Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker said. Just cut to the chase here. We have to win every single game. So this was as big as any single game. It's a really big, big deal for us to win that game in that fashion.
In Tampa Bay, home runs by Ben Zobrist and Johnny Damon, and eight scoreless innings from four Rays relievers, gave the home team a 6-2 win over the error-prone Toronto Blue Jays.
Rays starter Jeff Niemann lasted just one inning after allowing a two-run home run to Jose Bautista, but they got back on level terms in the same inning aided by two Toronto errors.
I did not like the way he (Niemann) looked in the beginning of the game, said Rays manager Joe Maddon. I didn't see the normal snap in the breaking ball and I didn't see the normal velocity. So I thought, 'Why wait?'
Alexander Torres relieved Niemann and earned the win for Tampa Bay, pitching five scoreless innings, while Brandon Gomes, Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth each pitched an inning and combined to allow just one hit.
Tampa Bay took the lead on a solo homer by Zobrist in the fourth inning, and Damon padded the advantage with a three-run blast in the eighth.
The Rays' win closes the gap on AL wild card leaders Boston to 1 games after the Red Sox slumped to a 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees.
It's outstanding, Maddon said. If you would have told us at the beginning of Spring Training we'd be in this position right now, I think the whole organization would take it, the players would take it and the fan base would take it.