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Cards rally late, but fall in extras

Cards rally late, but fall in extras

ST. LOUIS -- Every relief pitcher knows the rules. Relievers know their job is like playing the offensive line. If four guys succeed, but one assignment is blown, the whole unit takes the fall.

Ryan Franklin, the Cardinals' interim closer, became exhibit No. 10,021 of that basic truth when his 10th-inning lapse cost St. Louis on Monday night. Bill Hall's solo homer off of Franklin in the 10th inning washed away a previously fine Monday night for Redbirds relievers, and made the bullpen crew the goats once again in a 6-3 loss to the Brewers.

Only the struggling Giants have more bullpen losses than the Cardinals' 21 this season. St. Louis tied for the fewest relief losses in the Majors in 2007, with 12.

Russ Springer, Kelvin Jimenez, Ron Villone and Franklin had successfully navigated the seventh, eighth and ninth without surrendering a run to the potent Brewers. Jimenez in particular shined, going 1 2/3 scoreless frames after two innings without a score on Sunday.

That work allowed the St. Louis offense to tie the game in the ninth, forcing extra innings. But Franklin was hit hard and often in the 10th, allowing four hits -- starting with Hall's long ball on a hanging slider.

"I was just trying to go out there and get three outs," Franklin said. "I didn't make the pitches when I had to. I made some good pitches where I wanted to throw them, and they hit them. They did a good job of hitting pretty good pitches. The pitch that Billy Hall hit was a mistake, obviously."

That mistake was compounded by others, as the one-run margin became three before the inning was out. Jason Kendall doubled with one out, and Rickie Weeks reached on an infield single. But Aaron Miles made an ill-advised throw to first on the play, allowing Kendall to score and Weeks to go to second. A J.J. Hardy single scored Weeks for the final margin.

"They got the ball on the barrel a lot [against Franklin]," manager Tony La Russa said.

Half an inning earlier, Skip Schumaker's sacrifice fly had tied the game to force extra innings. However, the Cardinals missed out on a chance for the win when Albert Pujols flied out to center, ending the inning.

The Brewers led from the fifth inning to the ninth, thanks to Weeks' mammoth three-run homer that turned a 2-0 Cards lead into a one-run Milwaukee advantage. Guillermo Mota, Eric Gagne and David Riske took turns posting zeroes before St. Louis got to closer Salomon Torres in the ninth.

Joel Pineiro shut down the Brewers for the first 4 1/3 innings, taking a 2-0 lead into the fifth. After a Kendall double and a single by pitcher Seth McClung, he left a fastball up and over the plate and Weeks punished it.

"The two big mistakes were the base hit on a changeup up to the pitcher and then I tried to get a groundball with a sinker to Weeks," Pineiro said, "It was just middle in, on the sweet spot, and that was the big damage in the ballgame."

Troy Glaus put St. Louis ahead early, drilling a two-run double off McClung in the first inning. But after that, the recently torrid St. Louis offense went quiet until the ninth.

The Cardinals and Brewers are now in a virtual tie for second place in the National League Central as well as for the NL Wild Card lead. Milwaukee actually holds a slight lead due to a marginally better winning percentage.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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