Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/26/11

Rafael Furcal's solo home run backed Edwin Jackson's strong start as the Cards won again on Sunday. Atlanta's wild card lead is down to just one game.



The Cardinals, left for dead -- again -- after a brutal ninth-inning loss to the Mets on Thursday and a setback against the Cubs the next night, have been revived.

Yadier Molina's seventh-inning homer tied the score at 2-2 Sunday against the Cubs, and Rafael Furcal untied it with a leadoff homer in the eighth off Randy Wells. The Cardinals' 3-2 win, saved by Jason Motte with a perfect ninth, brought St. Louis within one game the Atlanta in the National League wild-card race.

The Cardinals, who completed their home schedule, will finish their season with three games at Houston, beginning Monday night. The Braves will entertain National League East champion Philadelphia for three games.

If the Braves and Cardinals are tied at the end of the regular season, there will be a one-game playoff in St. Louis on Thursday.

"What a finish. Great finish," manager Tony La Russa said. "And I liked it mostly because two guys who had a tough day Thursday -- Motte and Furcal -- put us in this position."

Motte had walked three hitters in the dreadful ninth inning Thursday, and Furcal had booted a double-play ball that had greased the skids.

"Every once in a while, there's justice in this game," La Russa said.

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, said, "There's no one here who deserved that home run more than (Furcal), after what he's gone through the last couple days."



1B Albert Pujols, who was accorded standing ovations in each of his four at-bats Sunday, went hitless in what might have been his final home game as a Cardinal. Pujols will be a free agent at the end of the season but said it hadn't crossed his mind about it being potentially his last home game at Busch Stadium.

"You still have the season. Those decisions are going to come in the offseason," Pujols said. "Right now, I'm still a Cardinal, and I'm going to do my best to help this organization to get to the next level. And that's my job. If I try to get distracted and think about what's going to happen this offseason or what's going to happen the next four games, I don't think I'm doing my job."

Asked what he would he tell the fans anticipating his next move, Pujols said, "What next move? I don't think about that, and that's not my job to discuss what my next move is going to be. My next move is to jump on a plane and go to Houston and be ready to play tomorrow."

Pujols' streak of reaching base in consecutive games ended at 40, the longest run in the majors this season.

RHP Edwin Jackson got a no-decision Sunday, but he finished his home season with a 3-0 record at Busch Stadium in eight starts. Overall, he went 12-9 with a 3.81 ERA for the White Sox and the Cardinals. A good hitter, Jackson also helped himself with a sacrifice fly that tied the game in the fifth inning.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan, who has been excused from the team for more than a month to care for his wife, Jeanine, who had brain surgery, is expected to join the team for the last series in Houston.

RHP Octavio Dotel picked up the victory Sunday, giving him three wins in September. He is tied for the team lead in the month with LHP Jaime Garcia.

RHP Jason Motte, who gained his ninth save Sunday with a perfect ninth, never has allowed an earned run to the Cubs. That covers 23 appearances and 20 innings. Motte's appearance was his 78th of the season, breaking the franchise's single-season record for a right-handed pitcher. The mark had been shared by Mike Perez (1992) and Julian Tavarez (2004).

LHP Jaime Garcia, RHP Jake Westbrook and RHP Chris Carpenter will be the club's three pitchers in Houston.

BY THE NUMBERS: 166- Double plays grounded into by the Cardinals, tying the team and National League record set in 1958.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The 2006 season was my best season, when I hit .216 - because we won the World Series."

- C Yadier Molina, who is having his best offensive year, hitting .305 with 14 homers and 64 RBI.




RHP Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10 and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 2.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season. Wainwright was getting closer to throwing a full-strength bullpen session in September, but he will not be allowed to throw his signature curveball until next year.


Mon., Sept. 26 at ASTROS: Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.45) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (11-11, 3.51) 7:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


<a href='' target='_new' title='Cards pleased with 3-2 win over Cubs'>Video: Cards pleased with 3-2 win over Cubs</a>
Rafael Furcal, manager Tony La Russa and Edwin Jackson believe St. Louis can push on for a playoff berth.

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