Cardinals collapse in ninth

The St. Louis Cardinals playoff hopes took a wrong turn on Thursday afternoon, when they blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning and lost to the New York Mets, 8-6. With the Atlanta Braves off today, St. Louis now trails Atlanta by two games in the NL Wild Card race.

According to Elias, the last time the Cardinals blew a lead of four runs-or-more in the ninth inning at home and lost was August 26, 1998 against the Marlins. Elias also tells us that the last time the Mets erased a deficit of at least four runs in the ninth on the road was July 17, 1973 against the Braves.

The Cardinals were streaking before the loss, having won four straight games overall, and 13 of their last 14 against NL East teams. They had also won seven of their last eight games vs. the Mets at Busch Stadium, including both this season.

Jason MotteMotteJason Motte was the goat, allowing four of the six runs in the final frame despite not giving up a hit. Motte is the first Cardinals pitcher to surrender at least four runs without allowing a hit in a game since Ralph Beard did it in 1954.

From July 26 until September 3, Motte was arguably one of the most dominant relievers in the league, with 21 straight scoreless appearances. However, he’s given up at least one run in each of his last four outings now, with eight runs total allowed in just three innings.

Albert Pujols
September NL Ranks

Albert Pujols continued his hot hitting in the month of September with a homer and an RBI in the loss. He is now just two RBI shy of his 11th straight 100-RBI, 30-HR season.

The Cardinals have six games left to make up their two-game deficit in the wild card race and -- on paper, at least -- their remaining schedule appears more favorable than that of the Braves.

The Cardinals host the Chicago Cubs for three games starting Friday and finish with three games in Houston. The Cardinals are a combined 16-8 against both those teams this season. However, they’ve dropped three of their last four against the Cubs and their last two against the Astros.

The Braves play three in Washington, D.C., including a game against Stephen Strasburg on Friday night, and then host the Philadelphia Phillies for three games to end the season. The Braves are just 14-16 vs the Phillies and Nationals, and have lost their last four games against the Phillies.