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NL wild card game: Cardinals capitalize on Braves mistakes to advance

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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Score and situation: In the first ever wild-card play-in game, the St. Louis Cardinals advanced to the NL Division Series with a wild 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Leading lads: Kyle Lohse rewarded Mike Matheny's faith with a strong five and two-third innings. The only two runs he allowed came on David Ross' controversial second inning home run after home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg awarded a late timeout, wiping away a strikeout. Offensively, Allen Craig stepped up again with a big RBI double in the fourth. Also, Matt Holliday continues to be a strong man, as evidenced by his sixth inning home run.

[Related: Terrible call mars first wild-card game]

Head hangers: In his final game, Chipper Jones went 1 for 5 and committed a throwing error on a would be double play ball that opened the door for the Cardinals three-run fourth inning rally. In the seventh, Dan Uggla's bobble and throwaway led directly to two more runs. Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons also committed an error in that frame. Earlier, Simmons' failed safety squeeze attempt killed a Braves rally after he was ruled out for interference.

Key play: Well, unfortunately the key "play" in this game was actually the bad infield fly ruling in the eight inning that robbed the Braves of their best chance to rally.

Interesting stat: Not only did the Braves 23-game winning streak with Kris Medlen starting come to an end, the four runs he allowed — two were unearned — were the most he's allowed in a single appearance since allowing five against the Marlins on July 24, 2010.

What they'll be talking about: How did the team with the fewest errors and best fielding percentage in the National League fall apart at the worst possible time? Also, the same thing they have been talking about all week. The St. Louis Cardinals, even without Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa, are alive and well in October.

What's next: The Cardinals advance into the NLDS where the new format will have them hosting the No. 1 seed Washington Nationals in Game 1. That series will open on Sunday at 3 ET with 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez scheduled to throw for Davey Johnson's club. The Cardinals will have no shortage of options themselves with Adam Wainwright perhaps the most likely candidate.

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