PHOENIX -- As Tuesday turned to Wednesday at Chase Field, the Cardinals and D-backs continued to play. And play. And play.
After 19 innings, it was the D-backs who came out on top.
Ildemaro Vargas lined the first pitch he saw from right-hander John Brebbia to left field for an RBI single in the 19th, handing the Cardinals a 3-2 walk-off loss. It snapped St. Louis' six-game winning streak and kept its magic number to clinch the National League Central at three.
It was the longest game in Chase Field history in both innings (19) and time of game (six hours, 53 minutes). The Cardinals used 24 players, including 11 pitchers, while the D-backs ran out of position players and relievers in the 19th inning. Starter Robbie Ray pinch-hit in the final inning, and if the game had continued, he would have played left field, Josh Rojas would have moved to second and Vargas would have moved from second to the mound.
“We don’t expect [the D-backs] to roll over,” said left-hander Andrew Miller, who gave up a game-tying home run to Vargas in the ninth. “They’ve been a good team all year. I know they’re not reaching their goal of making the playoffs, but they’re a good team. I know [D-backs manager] Torey [Lovullo] from my time in Boston, and he’s not going to let them do that. You want to play teams that care and are fighting and giving it everything they got. Certainly, that’s what they did.”
There were a combined 48 strikeouts from the Cardinals and D-backs, tying a Major League record. The Yankees and Cubs also combined for 48 strikeouts on May 7, 2017.
For the second straight night, Paul Goldschmidt homered in his return to Arizona. He gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the 13th, but the D-backs tied it in the bottom of the inning on a Caleb Joseph pinch-hit single. The only St. Louis offense other than Goldschmidt's homer was a Dexter Fowler leadoff home run on the fourth pitch of the game.
The Cardinals had scoring chances, like when they had runners on second and third with two outs in the 11th, but Paul DeJong struck out. And when they had runners on first and second with two outs in the 17th, but Goldschmidt struck out.
“You score two runs in 19 innings, you’d like to have some more offense,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.
For half of the game, it looked like Fowler's homer would be all the run support St. Louis needed for right-hander Jack Flaherty.
Flaherty lowered his second-half ERA to 0.97 with seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball. He had a no-hitter going until the seventh, when Eduardo Escobar led off by hitting a ground ball that turned sharply when it hit the artificial turf down the first-base line, resulting in a single. Flaherty struck out a season-high 11, becoming the third Cardinals pitcher to strike out 220 batters in a season.
“I felt like my arm was a little bit behind, but we were able to figure it out kind of as the game went on, we were able to execute better,” Flaherty said. “[Catcher Yadier Molina] did a really good job of guiding me through those innings, and I had to execute when I needed to. But as the game went on, I got into a better rhythm.”
But after Vargas' game-tying homer in the ninth, the Cardinals and D-backs slogged through more extra innings than regulation innings, until Brebbia loaded the bases in the 19th.
Brebbia intentionally walked Christian Walker to get to Vargas, who stayed in the game after the ninth and went 4-for-6. The Cardinals had done the same thing in the 17th, when they got Vargas to ground out to end the inning.
“Nothing against Vargas, clearly he beat us and put some good swings on it, but Walker is a more proven guy,” Shildt said. “We took our shot with Vargy a couple of times, and it paid off, but it didn’t pay off the last time.”