MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gabe Gross stole second and sped home with the game-winning run. He might as well have kept running to Tampa Bay.
After the game, the team announced Gross had been traded to the Rays in a deal for minor league pitcher Josh Butler.
"Some day," Gross said as he exhaled. "It was definitely a little bit out-of-the-blue, but I'm just looking forward to going down there and joining the team now."
It was a fitting end to a downright wacky game that included another oddity: Slugger Albert Pujols playing second base for the first time in his big league career. He had lobbied Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to play shortstop after Cesar Izturis was forced to leave the game.
"I told Tony I wanted to play shortstop, and he told me he preferred for me to go to second," Pujols said. "It something I don't want to do every time, but in that case it was an emergency."
All of it unfolded as the Cardinals rallied from a five-run deficit off the Brewers' beleaguered bullpen before Kapler singled off St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen (1-1) to end the game.
Milwaukee gave up four runs in the seventh off three relievers. It still led 8-7 when Eric Gagne made his fifth appearance in six days in the ninth.
He immediately got into trouble, hitting Izturis with a pitch on the right forearm and allowing a single to Skip Schumaker that put runners on the corners with no outs.
But second baseman Rickie Weeks couldn't turn it, allowing Izturis to tie the game at 8 and costing Gagne his second straight save opportunity.
"I just had a bad throw," Weeks said.
Gagne has blown four saves in 10 tries this season, but manager Ned Yost said Gagne is his guy.
"We didn't turn the double play for him," Yost said. "He's facing the best hitter in the National League, worked him and got him to hit in a double play, we just didn't turn it. It should've been over right there."
Izturis left the game because he couldn't grip a ball. X-rays were negative.
So, in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals sent Aaron Miles to short, Pujols to second from first, catcher Jason LaRue to first and Yadier Molina, the final position player on the bench, came in to catch. St. Louis carries 13 pitchers.
"I borrowed Molina's glove," Pujols said. "I know it's been 10 years ago since I played in the middle of the infield, but when you've played that position before you kind of have an idea of where to play. That's why sometimes I go out there at second and short and practice throwing some balls, because you never know what's going to happen."
The Brewers were actually in worse shape.
They had 14 pitchers and just three bench players as they wait for the return of center fielder Mike Cameron from a 25-game suspension. They managed to hold back catcher Mike Rivera all the way by using starter Jeff Suppan as a pinch hitter, one of three pitchers for both teams that made pinch-hit at-bats.
"It was interesting the way the benches are," Kapler said. "On their side, they may have been a little bit short, too, and then with the injury to Izturis, it makes the game kind of interesting. That's what's cool about National League baseball."
Seth McClung (1-0) got the win by pitching a perfect 12th with two strikeouts.
Pujols made two plays at second base -- a forceout at second off a grounder by J.J. Hardy in the 11th and covering on Gross' steal attempt in the 12th, but the throw was late, setting up Kapler's hit.
"Against a guy like Isringhausen, you just want to get a good pitch to hit," Kapler said.
Isringhausen said his curveball didn't do what it was supposed to.
"A lazy curveball," Isringhausen said. "It's the right pitch, I just didn't execute it."
And Gross was off to the races. Only afterward did he find out he was moving on, too.
"I do my best not to try to figure this game out because you're never going to," Gross said. "When Mike gets back, there's going to be a lot less playing time for people like myself ... Obviously, something had to give and apparently, this was it."
Izturis is day-to-day and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, but he's likely going to miss a few games. ... Gross, who went 2-for-4 and scored three runs, is batting .209 on the season with no homers and two RBIs. ... Butler, who will report to Class A Brevard County, was 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in three starts for Class A Vero Beach this season. ... Cameron will begin a five-game Triple-A assignment on Thursday in Omaha and is eligible to return to team Tuesday in Chicago. ... The team said after the game Tony Gwynn Jr. (hamstring) would be reinstated from the DL on Wednesday after finishing a rehab assingment in Nashville.
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