The Grand Slam: Cards escape Bucs with bases-loaded double play in ninth

David Brown

Trevor Rosenthal seemed to be seeking trouble in the ninth inning Sunday night when Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single to cut the St. Louis Cardinals lead to a run. By the time the Pittsburgh Pirates loaded the bases with nobody out, trouble definitely had found Rosenthal and the mood inside of PNC Park had swelled into a frenzy. Two batters later, after Ike Davis popped out and Jordy Mercer hit weakly into a 1-2-3 double play, Rosenthal had escaped, and the Cardinals had won 6-5 to avoid a sweep and their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Rosenthal said Mercer did what he wanted him to do on a pitch down in the zone, but he also half-apologized for helping to create so much tension for his teammates. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, hoping for a spark to get his team going past the .500 mark, sounded like he enjoyed the ride.

''That felt like a walk-off win right there,'' Matheny said with a relieved smile. ''That was beyond impressive what Trevor was able to do there at the end to get it back together. That's why he is pitching at the end of games.''

It certainly wasn't boring. The Bucs, conversely, fell to 16-21. They really could have used a sweep heading into a three-game set at Milwaukee.


The Milwaukee Brewers also needed a rescue after closer Francisco Rodriguez blew his first save of the season, and slugger Mark Reynolds came through down 0-2 in the count. His RBI single through the left side with two outs in the bottom of the ninth scored Rickie Weeks to give the Brewers a 6-5 victory against the New York Yankees. Mark Teixeira had given the Yankees life, continuing his encouraging comeback with a home run against K-Rod with two outs off a 3-2 pitch in the top of the inning.

The Brewers won with sluggers Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez out because of injuries, so they were feeling particularly scrappy in taking two of three in the series.

Weeks started the winning rally with a one-out double against Adam Warren, who threw a wild pitch that allowed him third. Regardless, Warren had two outs and was ahead two strikes in the count against Reynolds, who might have gotten himself dis-invited to future Yankees old-timers games by stroking a single to left. But if the Brewers have an old-timers game in 20 years, Reynolds is gold in Milwaukee after K-Rod blew his first save in 15 chances.

''Sometimes you've got to pick them up because he's been picking us up a lot,'' Reynolds said.


The New York Mets took advantage of Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon being "sore" and unavailable to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning, scoring the tying runs against Antonio Bastardo and Roberto Hernandez. Daniel Murphy hit a two-run home run in the ninth to start the revival, and Ruben Tejada put the finishing touches on the comeback by lining a single to left-center in the 11th for a 5-4 victory. Where was Paps?

He was sore from recent work and unable to go, the Phillies said in the Philadelphia Daily News:

"It was just a down day for him," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's not injured . . . He needed a day off."

But then, later in the same postgame media session, Sandberg said his $50 million closer was "sore." He said it was the first time Papelbon has been sore this year.

"It was a little bit neck related," Sandberg said. "He was just kind of generally sore." Both Sandberg and Papelbon himself don't expect it to affect him going forward. Papelbon will be available tomorrow, when the Phillies return home to host the Los Angeles Angels, they said.

"For sure," Papelbon said.

It's frustrating, not only because of the loss and how it came about, but because starter Cole Hamels pitched so well, striking out 10 over seven innings. And Papelbon has been one of the more effective players for the Phillies this season after giving indications he might not be. Still, making him pitch when he's sore is a recipe for disaster, so Sandberg did the right thing.


The first-place Detroit Tigers fell to the Minnesota Twins 4-3 at Comerica Park and the Twinkies couldn't have done it without help. Minnesota improved to 5-0 in rubber games, though they're still 17-19 on the season, by scoring three times in the eighth inning. Eduardo Nuñez provided the go-ahead hit against Joba Chamberlain in the eighth after Detroit played poor defense.

The Tigers made at least two costly plays that helped the Twins get runners home. Torii Hunter mistakenly assumed a Twins runner would score easily, so he threw to the wrong base in the seventh after a single. Left fielder Rajai Davis made an error in the eighth with two outs that helped the Twins score the tying run after Josmil Pinto's RBI single.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at and follow him on Twitter!