By Jenifer Langosch and Thomas Harding
ST. LOUIS -- In a game that featured six lead changes, the Cardinals snagged the final one, stunning the Rockies with a three-run ninth to steal a 9-8 win at Busch Stadium on Thursday night. Greg Garcia, who had been called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, gave the Cardinals their seventh walk-off win of the year by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
"It was just one of things where you try and keep your emotions in check," Garcia said. "That's a big spot in the game, and obviously he was having some trouble finding the strike zone. I was just going to be very selective."
"It's just the worst five-game stretch of my career -- that's what's going on right now," said Axford, who in his last five outings has blown four saves and given up eight runs, eight hits and eight walks in 3 2/3 innings.
While the Cardinals had an uncharacteristically sloppy night in the field and on the mound, Carpenter jolted the offense with a pair of home runs and four runs scored. He hit both blasts off Rockies starter Chris Rusin, who gave up six runs over five innings.
Rusin and Carlos Martinez each allowed 10 hits over five-inning starts. For Martinez, the abbreviated outing halted a skid of 11 straight quality starts. He allowed five runs, including a home run to Rusin, and lost his chance at a 12th win when Nick Hundley took reliever Seth Maness deep to tie the game at 6 in the sixth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Carpenter connects: Moved back into the leadoff spot for just the fourth time since April, Carpenter produced his first four-hit game of the season. This one included a pair of 400-plus foot home runs, the first a go-ahead three-run blast in the second and the latter a game-tying solo shot in the fifth. It was the first multi-homer game of Carpenter's career.
"I got off to a slow start coming off the [All-Star] break statistically, but I felt good. I felt like I was close," Carpenter said. "I knew that it was just a matter of time. I don't like saying that and making it sound like I'm cocky. I just really, truly believe that." More >
Rusin at the bat: Rusin gave up 10 hits and six runs in his five innings, but made up for it with the bat. He had a bunt single in the second inning, then tied the game at 4 in the fourth with his first Major League home run -- a two-run shot to right field.
"I just try to think of myself as another batter when I'm in the lineup," said Rusin, hitting .261 with four RBIs. "If I need to move a runner, I move a runner. I just pretend I'm another position player."
Tempers flare: One of the most important pitches Martinez threw in his rocky start was his last one, which induced a fifth-inning double play with the bases full in a one-run game. His demonstrative reaction to the play, however, agitated several on the Rockies side, who had already expressed some disdain when Martinez plunked DJ LeMahieu to load the bases. Martinez gestured at the Rockies' dugout as he walked off the field, while Nolan Arenado and Yadier Molina had a lengthy discussion at home plate. The Cardinals were upset two innings later when Wong was hit by a Christian Friedrich fastball.
"I'm sorry about that because I respect this game," Martinez said of the obscene gesture. "I don't want to do something bad to anybody. I apologize for what happened." More >
A needed lift: After the hard feelings in the top of the fifth, the momentum swung the Cards' way in the bottom of the frame on Carpenter's second homer and Jason Heyward's RBI triple. To boot, Corey Dickerson, who was upset and yelled at Martinez, suffered a right rib contusion diving for Heyward's drive. But Hundley led off the top of the sixth with a home run to left off Maness to tie the game at 6.
"We battled really well offensively," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We did in Chicago, too, the last series, linked together a lot of good at-bats. We did it again tonight but it wasn't enough again."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Garcia's game-ending RBI on Thursday was the second of his career -- and both have come without swinging the bat. Last May, Garcia was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give the Cardinals a walk-off win against the Cubs. The last player whose first two walk-off RBIs came without a swing was Rob Ducey (1987 with the Blue Jays and 1992 with the Angels).
Rusin's homer was the first by a Rockies pitcher since April 30, 2014, by Jordan Lyles at Arizona.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals unsuccessfully challenged a leadoff single by pinch-hitter Drew Stubbs in the seventh. A two-minute, six-second review confirmed that Stubbs beat out a throw from Peralta.
MOSS DEBUTS Brandon Moss, who was acquired in a two-player swap with Cleveland earlier in the day, arrived shortly before first pitch and was called upon as a sixth-inning pinch-hitter. After receiving a standing ovation, Moss, hitting with the potential tying run on second and two out, was retired on an over-the-back catch by Arenado. He remained in the game to play first base.
"It was a whirlwind of a day today, but I don't think it could have ended in any better way," Moss said. "That was so exciting. You're down two in the ninth, and you see the guys go up there and have such great at-bats and just battle. There was never a doubt that we weren't right there in it. To feel that and feel the energy in that, it was awesome." More >
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Righty Kyle Kendrick (4-11, 6.33 ERA) hopes to revisit his career success against the Cardinals -- 6-3, 3.53 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) against them since 2007 -- on Friday at Busch Stadium at 6:15 p.m. MT.
Cardinals:Michael Wacha will look to get back on track Friday night as he starts for the Cardinals in their 7:15 p.m. CT game against the Rockies. Wacha has allowed 13 runs over his last three starts (17 innings). Moss, who was acquired from the Indians on Thursday, is likely to make his first start for the Cardinals in this game.