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Carp's walk-off slam caps Cards' wild rebound

April 27, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- Two innings after a Randal Grichuk home run forced extra innings, Matt Carpenter put an emphatic end to a second consecutive 11-inning affair between the Cardinals and Blue Jays. With his first career grand slam on Thursday afternoon, Carpenter helped the Cardinals complete an 8-4 come-from-behind win

ST. LOUIS -- Two innings after a Randal Grichuk home run forced extra innings, Matt Carpenter put an emphatic end to a second consecutive 11-inning affair between the Cardinals and Blue Jays. With his first career grand slam on Thursday afternoon, Carpenter helped the Cardinals complete an 8-4 come-from-behind win in which they scored all of their runs off Toronto's bullpen.
The victory, which came in the first game of a split doubleheader at Busch Stadium, was the Cardinals' first of the season in which they trailed after seven innings. In fact, St. Louis trailed until the bottom of the ninth, when, with two outs, reliever Roberto Osuna blew his second save of the series by serving up Grichuk's two-run homer.
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Kolten Wong then sparked the Cardinals' game-winning rally with a leadoff triple in the 11th. The Blue Jays intentionally walked two batters in order to set up a force at any base, but it didn't matter, as Carpenter crushed a 3-2 pitch from J.P. Howell into the right-field seats to give the Cardinals their first walk-off grand slam since Aaron Miles' in 2008. Reliever Matt Bowman was credited with the win.

"The thing that always comes back to me is very easily could we have just quit in that game," said Carpenter. "You look at a team when you have a game like that -- it's kind of sloppy -- a lot of teams can just pack it in, especially on a doubleheader day, when nobody wants to be out there for a long time. But we never quit. We found a way to win that game. That says a lot about the character of this club."

Until the late innings, the Blue Jays were sailing and appeared poised to secure back-to-back wins for the first time this season, thanks in part to starter Mat Latos' six scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and four walks over an efficient 82-pitch outing that had him set up for his first win of the year. The right-hander was supported early by Russell Martin's second-inning solo homer and Ryan Goins' two-run single in the sixth. All three of those runs came off Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, who remains winless this season.

The Blue Jays' bullpen inherited a 4-0 lead in the seventh but immediately allowed the Cardinals to chip away. St. Louis scored lone runs in the seventh and eighth before its two home runs sealed the win. Five Blue Jays relievers allowed at least one run in the loss.
"We were in a good position," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We had the lead. You always like to win that first game of a double dip, and it got away. It's frustrating."
Better late than never: Grichuk entered as part of a double-switch in the seventh and drove in three runs, all with two outs, over the next two innings. His seventh-inning RBI single gave the Cards their first run. He then pounced on a 1-1 fastball from Osuna and drilled it a projected 412 feet to center. According to Statcast™, the home run, Grichuk's third of the season, came off his bat with an exit velocity of 103.8 mph. The blown save was Osuna's second in this series. He's been scored upon in four of his six outings this season.
"I felt great out there," Osuna said after his third blown save in four opportunities this season. "I felt aggressive with my pitches. I tried to locate my fastball a little better, and that's what I did. I missed one pitch right in the middle, and he hit a homer."
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Insufficient insurance: The Blue Jays pushed their lead to four with a run in the seventh but also missed an opportunity to put the game out of reach. Reliever Tyler Lyons, making his first appearance since last July, showed the rust as the first three batters he faced reached. Justin Smoak followed with a sacrifice fly, but back-to-back strikeouts by Lyons kept the Blue Jays from tacking on. Lyons followed with a 1-2-3 eighth.

"It's been a little while for him, so we needed to get him in there and needed to use him, too, on a day like today, where we have two games," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We have a lot of innings to cover, let alone going extra innings. Tyler did a nice job keeping us in it."

"This time around, I really felt like I had a little bit more command, and I made it a point to be working on my fastball and to have more control. I felt like it was a good step toward making improvements." -- Martinez, after allowing three runs and striking out eight in a six-inning start

• Before Thursday, the last Cardinals player to hit a walk-off grand slam in extra innings was Tom Herr, who connected for one off Mets pitcher Jesse Orosco on April 18, 1987. The last to do so in the Majors was Todd Frazier for the Reds in the bottom of the 13th inning on June 17, 2015.
Jose Bautista, who reached base four times, has back-to-back multihit games for the first time this season. He finished 2-for-3 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a run scored.
• Carpenter's was the fourth extra-innings walk-off grand slam surrendered in Blue Jays history. The last was allowed on Aug. 27, 2002, when Felix Heredia gave one up to Joe Crede in the 10th inning.
Blue Jays: Toronto returns home to open a three-game series against the Rays. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-2, 3.10 ERA) will take the mound in the series opener against Tampa Bay lefty Blake Snell (0-2, 3.38 ERA) with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Stroman is coming off a complete-game victory over the Angels in which he allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will welcome the Reds to town for a three-game series that begins with a 7:15 p.m. CT game on Friday. Right-hander Lance Lynn (2-1, 2.70 ERA) will start the opener against Cincinnati's Tim Adleman (0-0, 2.70 ERA).
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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.