Cards all smiles after jaw-dropping comeback

Cards all smiles after jaw-dropping comeback

Cards all smiles after jaw-dropping comeback
MILWAUKEE -- After Allen Craig's RBI single in the top of the ninth gave the Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Monday, manager Mike Matheny couldn't help but notice all the smiles in the St. Louis clubhouse.

Probably because for eight innings, those smiles were largely absent. St. Louis scored three runs in the top of the ninth off Milwaukee closer John Axford, but not before being shut out in the first eight stanzas, adding to the frustration following a dismal weekend in Cincinnati, which saw the Cardinals get swept and sputter offensively.

"There was a lot of emotion in there," Matheny said of his team's dugout. "We had Gatorade coolers all over the place and broken bats. Guys, they care about this. When they don't get the job done, they're not happy because they believe they can do it."

Finally, in the ninth inning, Craig and the Cardinals turned that belief into reality.

Down 2-0, Matt Carpenter started the rally with a walk. And after pinch-hitters Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran registered long outs, the Cardinals were down to their last chance. They capitalized three batters later -- after a walk and single -- on Matt Holliday's bases loaded single that scored two runs. Craig then completed the comeback win with another single that brought Skip Schumaker home for the deciding run.

"We always feel like it's only a matter of time," Craig said. "We have a lot of good hitters on the team. Like I said before, when we're taking really good at-bats, good things are going to happen."

For the Cardinals, Monday marked the first time good things happened at the plate -- and led to a win -- in more than a week. After winning four of five before the All-Star Game, St. Louis came back from the break and went 4-for-28 with runners in scoring position against the Reds. Much like his players, Matheny was left frustrated with the team's execution in Cincinnati.

Thanks to the ninth-inning surge and a strong outing from starter Lance Lynn, though, the Cardinals started their series against the Brewers on a much more positive note.

Making his first start since representing the National League at the All-Star Game, Lynn struck out 10 batters and surrendered six hits in seven innings. He also didn't allow a walk for the first time this season. The lone run Lynn surrendered came in the seventh inning, when he caught too much of the plate with a cutter that Corey Hart sent over the fence in center field to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead.

"One bad pitch cost me a run," Lynn said. "That guy's done it before multiple times, and you just got to make a better pitch right there. But they bailed me out so it was good for us.

On the other side of the mound, Milwaukee starter Mike Fiers was just as dominant, allowing four hits and striking out four in seven shutout innings. Fiers allowed just two runners to even reach second base.

The Brewers extended their lead in the eighth inning on an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of reliever Jason Motte. However, after the Cardinals took the lead in the top of the ninth, Motte came back by putting the Brewers down in order to end the game.

With a Reds loss on Monday, the Cardinals were able to get back to 3 1/2 games behind the division leaders. On the flip side, the Brewers, who are in fourth behind the St. Louis, suffered another setback in a fashion they've grown accustomed to, as Axford blew his sixth save of the season on Monday.

"You get a big homer from Corey, a big hit from Brauny, you're feeling pretty good about what's happening," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Frankie [Francisco Rodriguez, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning] comes in and does his job. And you lose -- any time that happens, that's tough on a team. Whether it's a month ago or now, it's hard."

Matheny, whose Cardinals have dealt with their own share of frustrations lately, said he hopes Monday's win can springboard his team ahead.

"Those kind of wins there and those kind of at-bats in those big situations amp every one of those guys, prime them for good things tomorrow and moving forward," Matheny said. "And then for the team and the belief being able to come back once again, they've shown it enough. It's been good."

Jeremy Warnemuede is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.