ST. LOUIS -- Mike Baxter tied a career high with three hits, including a game-tying RBI single in the fourth, and he dove into the stands to catch a foul ball along the right-field line. But Baxter's throwing error in the 10th led to the Cardinals' walk-off 3-2 win Friday over the Cubs, who missed several opportunities in the National League Central showdown.
"We almost pulled it off," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
With the game tied at 2 in the 10th against Justin Grimm, Peter Bourjos doubled to lead off and Kolten Wong singled to center, with the ball richocheting off the bag. Shortstop Starlin Castro was able to get it, but the Cardinals had runners at the corners.
The Cubs then intentionally walked Matt Carpenter to load the bases, and employed a five-man infield, bringing Baxter in from right field to play second. Baxter has played that side of the infield before -- he played first for Triple-A Iowa this year -- so it wasn't that unusual.
"It's something I'm very capable of doing," Baxter said. "In that situation, it seems a little bit outside the box, but I'm capable of doing that. I threw it away. I didn't make the play, and it's pretty frustrating."
Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder to Baxter, who threw home but the throw pulled catcher David Ross wide of home plate, and Bourjos scored the game-winner.
It was the Cardinals' sixth walk-off win, and the Cubs' 31st one-run game, most in the Major Leagues. They're now 18-13 in those contests.
Maddon didn't blame Baxter, saying it was an awkward throw. The problem was that the Cubs, who out-hit the Cardinals, 12-6, stranded 12 baserunners.
"The problem there was leaving so many guys on base," Maddon said. "You get down to a one-run game and extra innings, we had many opportunities and didn't take advantage of them. That's the tale of the tape right there."
That didn't make Baxter feel any better.
"You look at a night like that, when the game's on the line, [Maddon and the coaches] put us in spots throughout the course of the night -- they move us around the field -- and they did it in that spot," Baxter said. "It's our job to finish the play and make it, and I didn't."