Staked to four-run lead, Cards fall in extras

Staked to four-run lead, Cards fall in extras

ST. LOUIS -- Five innings after erasing a four-run deficit, the Red Sox capitalized on a stellar night from their bullpen by pushing across a two-out run that lifted them to a 5-4, 13-inning win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. St. Louis, which fell to 2-6 in Interleague Play, went scoreless in its final 11 innings on Wednesday.

After getting two quick outs to open the 13th, Cards reliever Sam Tuivailala allowed a pair of perfectly placed bloop hits to ignite Boston's rally. Mitch Moreland dropped in a ground-rule double that, with a 75.6 mph exit velocity and 51 degree launch angle, had a 7 percent Hit Probability, according to Statcast™. Left fielder Tommy Pham couldn't reach it in time. The same went for pinch-hitter Chris Young's single, which came off his bat at 69.6 mph. Moreland scored easily.

"It was just one of those games that you stay loose and be ready for a pinch-hit, be ready for a double switch," said Young. "You just never know what [will] happen. Just trying to stay ready."

Said Tuivailala: "I felt like I made some good pitches out there. The ball just didn't fall in the right spots."

Taylor's strikeout ends the game

Ben Taylor sealed the win with his first career save in his 10th appearance to complete a run of seven scoreless innings from the 'pen. The Red Sox ran through their entire eight-man bullpen to get there and combined to allow three hits and two walks.

"This is big for us," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "This is a big win. It's a huge shift. I think anytime you get this deep into an extra-inning game, when you're depleting your bullpen, and you get the win, it feels like two [wins] at times."

Long before the Red Sox stole the extra-inning win, Mike Leake had positioned the Cardinals for a win. Leake needed to look no further than at his opponent on Wednesday to see a pitcher transform from average to elite in a year's time. That was Rick Porcello last year. This year, it's been Leake. Even after allowing a late two-run homer to Jackie Bradley Jr., Leake still leads National League starters with a 2.03 ERA.

Statcast: Bradley's longest HR

"It was big," Bradley said. "Just to be able to put some runs on the board, I mean, it brought us within two. We know we have a good enough offense to string together some quality at-bats and see what happens."

With this seven-inning start, Leake has notched quality starts in all eight appearances this season.

Leake's strong outing

Porcello, on the other hand, is still seeking to replicate last year's American League Cy Young Award season. The Cardinals strung together four consecutive hits against him to open the second inning and had a 4-0 lead by the end of it. Porcello settled in with four scoreless innings to follow in order to keep the Red Sox within striking distance.

"Yeah, I mean, really, who cares about my performance tonight? I think the story of the game is the bullpen coming out there and throwing seven goose eggs," Porcello said.

Sierra not overwhelmed in the moment

Momentum halted: Though he didn't enter the game until the 11th, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez helped squelch a Cardinals rally by throwing out his fifth runner of the season. On first with two out, Pham tried to get himself into scoring position by taking off on Fernando Abad's 1-0 pitch. Vazquez threw him out easily to end the inning with Cardinals cleanup hitter Jedd Gyorko at the plate. The Cards were not able to advance a runner into scoring position over the final six innings.

Vazquez throws out Pham

"Vazqy is so good back there, but everybody is looking to get 90 feet," said Farrell. "Didn't want to have to go to Taylor in that inning if we could at all possible stay away from it, because we're looking at another double switch and CY's spot doesn't come up right there. That's a big out, a momentum shifter."

Late strike: After halving the deficit with Bradley's two-run homer in the seventh, the Red Sox erased the rest of it against reliever Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth. Dustin Pedroia drew a one-out walk after Rosenthal didn't get a favorable call on a 2-2 pitch that, according to Statcast™, was in the zone. Xander Bogaerts drove him in when he became the first Red Sox shortstop to record a two-triple night since Johnny Pesky in 1947. A struggling Andrew Benintendi added a game-tying sacrifice fly.

Bogaerts triples twice

"That's a shame," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the call that cost Rosenthal against Pedroia. "I took a look at it, and that's strike three. I thought it was a shaky strike zone, and I thought it happened a number of times in big situations. We're never ones to give excuses, but it's a fact. Enough pitches got missed in big situations, and it ended up hurting pretty bad."

"This was a huge win. I felt like it was very pivotal with the way the game started off and momentum swinging their way pretty much the whole night. We were able to put some runs on the board and fight and claw our way back to tie the game, and, obviously, stayed in extras for some innings, but we were able to scratch together one more run." -- Bradley

"When it's up on the board, it's tough not to. That's the extent of what I pay attention to." -- Leake, on whether he's noticed where he ranks among the NL ERA leaders

Despite entering the game with the fifth-highest ground-ball percentage (54.3 percent) in the National League, Leake did not induce his first double play of the season until Wednesday. It came in the fifth off the bat of Deven Marrero to erase a leadoff single by Sandy Leon.

Red Sox: Right-hander Hector Velazquez makes his Major League debut on Thursday night when the Red Sox open a four-game series in Oakland. Velazquez's contract was purchased from the Mexican League on Feb. 18. The 28-year-old has pitched well at Triple-A Pawtucket, going 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA. The A's counter with ace Sonny Gray. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET.

Cardinals: After an 11-day layoff, Michael Wacha will make his return to the mound on Friday, when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Giants at Busch Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CT. Wacha is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA in four home starts this season.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.