ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning and hurt their wild-card hopes when shortstop Rafael Furcal misplayed a potential double-play grounder, allowing the New York Mets to rally for an 8-6 win Thursday.
Ahead 6-2, the Cardinals walked three batters in helping the Mets take the lead with a six-run burst. Willie Harris drew a walk to begin the inning and capped it with a tiebreaking, two-run single with two outs.
The loss dropped St. Louis two games behind idle Atlanta for the wild card, with each team having six games left. The Cardinals lost for only the third time in 16 games.
The Mets, who had lost nine of their previous 11, came back against three St. Louis relievers.
After Harris drew a leadoff walk, Nick Evans hit a routine grounder to Furcal. But Furcal, acquired in late July to boost the Cardinals’ playoff push, fumbled the ball for his fifth error in six games.
Jason Motte walked three of the five batters he faced, including pinch-hitter Justin Turner with the bases loaded. Marc Rzepczynski (0-3) allowed Jose Reyes’ RBI single.
Left fielder Shane Robinson almost saved the Cardinals with a diving try, but Ruben Tejada’s drive glanced off the tip of his outstretched glove for a two-run double that made it 6-all. Fernando Salas gave up the hits to Tejada and Harris.
Albert Pujols and Allen Craig homered for the Cardinals. The game was delayed 2 hours and 19 minutes by rain before the first pitch.
Harris missed a two-run homer by inches in the fourth on a drive to right that curved just foul, waving his arms in triumph on the bases and then in disgust after the play was upheld after a video review.
Pujols reached base safely for the 38th straight game, breaking a tie with Andre Ethier for the longest streak in the league this season and leaving him one shy of matching Johnny Damon’s major league-best. His NL-leading 37th homer left him two RBIs shy of a solid slate of 11 career 100-RBI seasons.
Craig has been filling in for injured Matt Holliday, and putting up Holliday-style numbers with three homers, three doubles and seven RBIs in eight games. He hit a two-run homer off Chris Capuano in the first and he also doubled.
Pujols, who homered in the fifth, is a career .545 hitter (18 for 33) against Capuano with five homers, four doubles and 12 RBIs.
Jake Westbrook allowed a run on three hits in six innings, retiring 13 of the first 15 hitters before running into trouble in the fifth when he walked Reyes on four pitches to load the bases and Tejada on five pitches to force in a run.
Yadier Molina added an RBI double in the Cardinals’ two-run seventh, giving him a single-season best of 63 RBIs.