Monday, May 19, 2014
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Schafer Keys Braves Rally Vs. Cardinals

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[May 19, 2014]  ST. LOUIS -- Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said center fielder Jordan Schafer got "redemption from the baseball gods."

Forgive the St. Louis Cardinals for disagreeing.

After losing a fly ball in the sun that enabled St. Louis to take a seventh-inning lead, Schafer drew a game-tying bases-loaded walk with two outs in the ninth Sunday, keying a dramatic rally that gave Atlanta a 6-5 win at sold-out Busch Stadium.

Pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit scored the winning run moments later on a wild pitch from reliever Carlos Martinez as the Braves (23-19) finished their six-game road trip at 2-4 and remained in first place in the National League East.

"Everybody was tired of losing," Gonzalez said. "We played a grind-it-out battle royale, especially there at the end. It's nice to win this one. Maybe this will get us going in the right direction."

The needle was heading south again when Schafer couldn't sight Jhonny Peralta's towering two-out fly ball with catcher Yadier Molina at first. The ball dropped in front of Schafer and Molina, helped by a wild throw home from second baseman Dan Uggla, scored on what was ruled a double for a 5-4 Cardinals edge.

One out away from absorbing a weekend sweep, Atlanta rallied against closer Trevor Rosenthal (0-2), pitching for the fourth straight day.

Doumit laced a double to right, advancing first baseman Freddie Freeman, who led off with a single, to third. After falling behind pinch-hitter Evan Gattis 2-0, Rosenthal intentionally walked him, filling the bases for the .115-hitting Schafer.

On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Schafer took a 98-mile per hour fastball over the plate. The Cardinals thought it was knee-high. Plate umpire Eric Cooper, the only man whose opinion mattered, judged it low, forcing Freeman home with the tying run.

"That was tough," St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong said. "You wanted to hear strike three, of course. That's how this game goes ... it can go either way."

Martinez relieved Rosenthal after the walk to face second baseman Ramiro Pena. But Martinez bounced a 1-0 breaking ball to the backstop and Doumit scored easily.

Reliever David Carpenter (3-0) worked 1 1/3 innings for the win. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out center fielder Peter Bourjos with first baseman Matt Adams at second for the final out, picking up his 11th save.

"I wouldn't say this was an automatic must-win game," Freeman said, "but this was a big win for us."

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, making his first MLB appearance since May 17, 2013, was in line for the win until the Braves rallied.

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Garcia, who had a torn rotator cuff and labrum repaired just under a year ago, allowed five hits and four runs in seven innings. He walked none and struck out five.

"There are a couple of pitches I'd love to have back," Garcia said. "I was able to go deep into the game, which was a good sign. Overall, it was good. I just have to try to get better."

Freeman gave the Braves a 1-0 first inning lead with his eighth homer, but Wong erased it with a three-run double in the second off starter Gavin Floyd. All the runs were unearned after catcher Gerald Laird committed a passed ball, allowing Bourjos to reach after striking out.

Left fielder Justin Upton led off the fourth with his 10th homer into the second deck in left field for Atlanta. The Cardinals made it 4-2 in the fifth when Adams lofted a sacrifice fly to center.

Freeman tied it in the sixth by lining a two-run single to left. But St. Louis (23-21) appeared ready to notch its fifth straight win until Schafer got his chance to make amends.

"Thank God we pulled it out," he said. "It was such a helpless feeling to lose that ball in the sun."

Floyd pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four runs, one earned. He walked three and struck out four.

NOTES: St. Louis sent down RHP Jorge Rondon to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Garcia on the active roster. Rondon was with the club for five days but didn't get into a game, although he warmed up in the 12th inning of a win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night. ... Atlanta CF B.J. Upton had the game off after striking out four times on Saturday, giving him 25 whiffs in his last 45 at-bats. Upton's average dropped to .203. ... The Cardinals opted not to activate RHP Jason Motte (elbow) from the disabled list Sunday, but will probably do so before Tuesday night's home game with Arizona. Motte finished a rehab assignment in Memphis on Thursday night and has been in St. Louis since.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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