ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals thought they had found a fix to their defensive struggles at the shortstop position when they acquired Rafael Furcal from the Dodgers on July 31.
But the 33-year-old has had his own defensive struggles recently and a ninth-inning error on Thursday, which helped contribute to a Mets 8-6 come-from-behind victory, was his fifth in the past six games.
"I don't know," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said when asked to explain the ninth-inning error. "I think he probably tried to hurry it. It looked to me like he got to it and instead of just taking the one sure [out] he wanted to hurry it and make sure it was two outs. That's what it looked like to me. I think he's just trying to do too much. He does a lot, so it's hard to fault him. That play -- yesterday I think it was or the day before, whatever it was -- I think he was trying to do too much too quickly."
On Wednesday, Furcal misplayed a two-out ground ball off the bat of Angel Pagan in the third inning that allowed two runs to score. After a single by David Wright, pinch-hitter Josh Satin smacked a two-run double to left-center field to put the Mets ahead, 4-3.
The Cardinals were able to overcome that miscue and win the game, 6-5, to cut the Braves' lead in the National League Wild Card race to 1 1/2 games.
But St. Louis wasn't so fortunate on Thursday, when Furcal committed his 14th error of the season. He left the clubhouse after the game without speaking to reporters.
The Cardinals took a 6-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning and brought in Jason Motte to close it out.
Motte walked the first batter he faced, Willie Harris, but got Nick Evans to hit a ground ball to shortstop just a couple feet left of the second-base bag. Furcal couldn't field the ball cleanly enough to attempt to start a double play and wasn't able to corral it and flip to second for an out, either.
The next batter hit a fly ball to center field for the first out, but the inning spiraled out of control from there as a combination of Motte, lefty Marc Rzepczynski and right-hander Fernando Salas wasn't able to stop the Mets' rally until the visitors had scored six runs and taken an 8-6 lead.
"We were a ground-ball double-play away from getting out of it," Motte said. "Even bases loaded, a ground ball right there and the game's over, and everybody's having a good day."
Asked if it was tough to collect himself after that error, Motte said it is part of the game.
"It's part of baseball," he said. "My job is to go out there and make pitches. I was trying to make pitches. I got the next guy to pop out, and even then, I was one pitch away from getting a ground-ball double play and the game being over."
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.