(Sports Network) – Within minutes, the momentum in the National League Wild Card race seemed to shift towards the Cardinals. St. Louis gets a chance to keep the tide in their favor this afternoon with the finale of a three-game series with the New York Mets.
Moments after the wild card-leading Braves lost to the Marlins, David Freese hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning that sparked the Cardinals to a 6-5 victory. The win pulled St. Louis to within 1 1/2 games of Atlanta and 4 1/2 back of NL Central-leading Milwaukee with seven contests to play, and the Cards can pick up a half-game in both races today with the Braves and Brewers both idle.
Freese also hit a two-run triple in the game and his game-changing blast over the right-field wall went just above a sign the prophetically read, “Now that’s positive energy.”
“It’s the biggest hit of my career,” Freese said. “Getting that win is huge.”
Jaime Garcia was awarded his 13th win of the season after giving up four unearned runs over 7 2/3 innings as the Cardinals won for the fourth straight time. They have also won 12 of their last 14 and can pick up their first sweep of the Mets this afternoon since a three-game set at home on April 21-23, 2009.
Jake Westbrook was on the mound in the Cardinals last loss and he’ll look to get on track today after lasting just 3 1/3 innings and 71 pitches in a setback to the Phillies on Saturday. The right-hander was charged with a pair of runs — one earned —on five hits and five walks.
Westbrook fell to 12-9 with a 4.58 earned run average on the season and has split two career starts versus the Mets. That includes a win on July 21 for the 34-year-old after he gave up two runs over eight innings.
New York lost for the ninth time in 11 games and failed to hold a 4-3 lead down the stretch. Reliever Pedro Beato fell behind the count to Freese before giving up the longball.
“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.
Already without Jason Bay for a second straight game due to illness, fellow outfielder Lucas Duda left Wednesday’s game due to dizziness two innings after running into the wall in right trying to make a catch. He will undergo further tests today, but it is believed he did not suffer a concussion. Still, Mets manager Terry Collins doesn’t expect to play him today.
That will leave New York one more bat short in an attempt to get Chris Capuano his 12th victory of the season, which would be the second-highest total of his career behind only an 18-win season in 2005. He went 11-12 the following season with the Brewers and holds the same record through 31 games this year along with a 4.47 ERA after a victory over the Braves on Friday.
The 32-year-old southpaw won for just the second time in nine starts after limiting Atlanta to a pair of runs on six hits and two walks over five innings.
Capuano is 5-5 with a 5.18 ERA in his career against the Cardinals.