ST. LOUIS >> The St. Louis Cardinals used power to tie the game, and took advantage of a mistake by the Chicago Cubs to win it.
Former University of Hawaii shortstop Greg Garcia hit his first career home run — a pinch-hit blast in the eighth inning —and Peter Bourjos scored the winning run from third on a bases-loaded, no-out, throwing error by Mike Baxter to help the Cardinals to a 3-2, 10-inning win in a battle of NL Central rivals.
It was St. Louis’ fourth win in a row and seventh straight at home, and the Cardinals improved to a major league-best 27-7 at home.
With the game tied in the 10th, Jhonny Peralta slapped a routine grounder to second base, where Baxter — the right fielder — had come in to play with the bases loaded, giving the Cubs five infielders. Baxter cleanly fielded the ball and had plenty of time, but threw wildly to the third-base side of the plate.
“I threw it away, I didn’t make the play,” Baxter said. “It’s something I’m very capable of doing.”
Bourjos began the 10th inning with a double off reliever Justin Grimm (1-2). Kolten Wong, Garcia’s teammate at UH, followed with a single off the second-base bag and Matt Carpenter was walked to load the bases.
Garcia set up the Cardinals’ sixth extra-inning win in nine tries with his homer off Pedro Strop leading off the eighth that tied it at 2. It was the Cardinals’ first pinch-hit homer of the season — from an unlikely source.
“I’m not a power hitter by any means,” Garcia said.
Garcia is 3-for-4 as a pinch hitter since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis on June 19.
“I had a feeling he was going to throw me a fastball,” Garcia said. “I put a good swing on it. It was surreal. I can’t even put it into words.”
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was confident that Garcia would at least get on base.
“I figured he’d go up there and put a pretty good rip into it,” Matheny said. “I didn’t expect to see the ball leave (the park). What a great surprise. He’s done a nice job whenever we do get him an opportunity.”