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Missed chances end up not proving costly for Cards

St. Louis wins despite going 4-for-15 with RISP, squandering big chance in fourth

ST. LOUIS -- If not for a few Boston mistakes and some timely hitting, Saturday's narrative may have been very different.

The story of Game 3 of the World Series for the Cardinals would have been missed opportunities. St. Louis stranded 12 runners on base, few more important than squandering a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the fourth.

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"Typically, those things don't lead toward a win," manager Mike Matheny said of the night's mistakes, which didn't prevent the Cardinals from pulling out a 5-4 victory. "But the guys weren't distracted by the things that didn't happen tonight and kept their nose down and tried to make something happen afterwards. It took a couple of base hits and the guys making something happen there at the end."

Yadier Molina led off the fourth with a single, Boston starter Jake Peavy walked David Freese and then Jon Jay followed with a base hit to right-center field. But with no outs and the bases loaded -- a seemingly opportune time to break the game open -- the Cardinals came up empty. Pete Kozma struck out looking, and then Peavy retired Joe Kelly and Matt Carpenter on popouts to keep the Cards' lead at 2-0.

And Boston capitalized, closing the two-run gap by tying the game with a run each in the fifth and sixth. Had the Cardinals not pulled out an unconventional victory on an obstruction call in the ninth inning, Kozma would have been kicking himself over the wasted opportunity.

"In my eyes, that was a turning point in the game," Kozma said. "They got a little momentum from it, [then] a couple runs."

"We would have liked to have scored more runs that inning, but [Peavy] made some pitches to get out of it," Carpenter said. "If we would have lost, that would have been something to look back on, but we didn't. Just try to forget about it."

In the regular season, the Cardinals batted .330 with runners in scoring position, setting a Major League record. But on Saturday, St. Louis went 4-for-15 with RISP.

"It's frustrating," Matt Holliday said. "You'd like to get more runs. But part of the fact that they're here, too, is that they have tough, competitive guys who can make tough pitches and have gotten out of situations like that before. You're not going to get a ton of good pitches to hit. They're just too good."

After knocking at the door for eight innings, the Cards broke through in the ninth with a single from Molina and a pinch-hit double from Allen Craig. With two on and one out, Jay reached on a fielder's choice -- with Molina being thrown out at home -- and Craig secured the walk-off win by scoring on an obstruction call at third base after the throw by Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia sailed down the left-field line. Even with all the neglected baserunners and regrettable moments, St. Louis still squeezed out the victory and now holds a 2-1 lead over Boston in the World Series.

"We want to win a game no matter what. That's the postseason," Carpenter said. "Whether it's sloppy or whether it's a perfect game -- you can play a perfect game and get beat in the postseason, too. So a win's a win."

Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter, Joe Kelly, Pete Kozma