ST. LOUIS -- On a night when the St. Louis Cardinals again struggled to piece together hits, they were presented with first place in the National League Central thanks to the generous Seattle Mariners.
Rookie catcher Mike Zunino's passed ball with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning scored Pete Kozma with the winning run as the Cardinals eked out a 2-1 win at Busch Stadium.
Kozma singled with two outs off Chance Ruffin (0-2). Oliver Perez relieved but walked Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay to load the bases.
The first pitch to Matt Holliday clanked off Zunino's glove and rolled to his left. Kozma raced for the plate and his head-first slide touched home as Perez dropped Zunino's return throw, giving St. Louis (86-61) its sixth win in seven games.
"I was ready for anything," Kozma said. "He (Perez) was a little wild. I thought I would have been safe if he hung on. You do anything you can to win a game."
The Cardinals own a one-game lead over Pittsburgh, a 5-4 loser to the Chicago Cubs, and a 3 1/2-game advantage over Cincinnati after its 5-1 defeat in Milwaukee. It was the fifth straight defeat for Seattle (65-82).
Kevin Siegrist (3-1) worked around a pair of singles in the 10th to pick up the win, escaping the inning when Abraham Almonte flied out to center with men at second and third.
That set up the Mariners' final face-plant. They gave away three outs on the bases, including getting two runners caught stealing after ninth inning singles, and handed St. Louis an equalizing run in the eighth.
Pinch hitter Brock Peterson's one-out popup off reliever Charlie Furbush was dropped by rookie second baseman Nick Franklin for a two-base error. Pinch-running for Peterson, Kozma timed Furbush's slow delivery home and stole third on ball four to Carpenter.
"Pete made something out of nothing," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Jay then hit a sharp grounder at Franklin for what could have been an inning-ending double play. But rookie shortstop Brad Miller's throw to first short-hopped Kendrys Morales and bounced away as Kozma scored the tying run.
"It's our youth," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "You saw it again tonight. There were multiple plays that had to be made. We've got a lot of young players up here."
Miller's inaccurate throw left both starters with a no-decision. The Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma allowed just three hits and two walks, striking out one, in seven scoreless innings. Adam Wainwright went eight innings, yielding six hits and one run while walking two and fanning six.
Ironically, it was Zunino who put Seattle ahead in the fifth, jumping all over a 2-0 cutter and launching a 435-foot homer to left.
"It might have been the worst pitch I've ever thrown," Wainwright said. "It was supposed to go down and away and it stayed up and in. He did what you're supposed to do with it. Other than that, I felt my stuff was good most of the night."
Carpenter denied Seattle a second run in the fifth when he dove behind second to keep Almonte's two-out bouncer from getting into center field, then threw behind Franklin as he rounded third. Franklin was tagged out in the ensuing rundown.
Still, that one run looked like it would stand against a St. Louis offense, which has just 22 hits in its last four games. However, the Mariners' extreme generosity trumped the slump.
"It would be all right if we got some hits and runs before the fifth or sixth inning," Matheny joked. "But we'll take wins any way we can get them."
NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina was back in the lineup after a two-game absence, batting fifth. Molina and his brother, Bengie, the team's assistant hitting coach, were with their mother in a St. Louis-area hospital as she underwent a surgical procedure. ... Cardinals RHP Trevor Rosenthal and his wife, Lindsey, welcomed their first child early Friday morning. Rosenthal was unavailable Friday night but will return for Saturday night's game. ... Seattle started a 10-game road trip in St. Louis. The Mariners will go to Detroit for four and then to the Los Angeles Angels for three. The Mariners will cover more than 5,100 air miles on the trip, giving them a total of 52,656 for the season.