St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) – The Cardinals’ playoff chances were helped by a Braves loss, then got even better when David Freese’s three-run homer in the seventh inning gave St. Louis a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets.
Atlanta’s setback to the Marlins and Freese’s go-ahead blast came within minutes of each other, and inched the Cardinals within 1 1/2 games of the NL wild card front-runners. St. Louis can make up the half-game in the finale of this three-game series on Thursday.
“It’s the biggest hit of my career,” Freese said. “Getting that win is huge.”
Freese had a two-run triple prior to his heroics in the seventh, which made a winner of Jaime Garcia (13-7), who gave up four unearned runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings of work.
New York’s Chris Schwinden, on the eve of his 25th birthday, was in line for his first big league win after tossing six quality innings.
But the Mets couldn’t hold a 4-3 lead down the stretch to lose for the ninth time in 11 games.
Miguel Batista relieved Schwinden and retired the first two hitters before Albert Pujols kept the seventh alive with a single. Daniel Herrera (0-1) came in for one batter and gave up a single to Lance Berkman before Freese stepped up against Pedro Beato.
Beato, down 3-1 in the count, threw a 90-m.p.h. fastball right down the middle, and Freese took it the other way and over the right field wall, just above a sign the prophetically read, “Now that’s positive energy.”
“I was trying not to walk him in that situation, and I left a pitch out over the middle of the plate and he took a good swing at it,” Beato said.
A suddenly resurgent Busch Stadium crowd was briefly quieted when Jason Motte surrendered a two-out, solo homer to Willie Harris in the ninth, but the reliever struck out pinch-hitter Josh Thole to secure his eighth save and St. Louis’ seventh win in eight games.
Freese drove in a pair with a triple into the right-field corner in the first inning, and Allen Craig knocked in another run an inning later.
Pujols and Berkman each came up empty with the bases loaded later in the second, and the Mets pushed four across in the third, two coming in when Rafael Furcal booted a routine ground ball up the middle.
Josh Satin added a pinch-hit, two-run double later in the frame, and it stayed 4-3 until the deciding seventh.