Jose Oquendo holds up game-tying run in 9th, Cards lose 4-3

By Aaron Kirn
St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo looks at the scoreboard from the dugout after the Milwaukee Brewers score five runs in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on October 2, 2009. Milwaukee won the game 12-6. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

With the game on the line in the ninth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates by one run, 3B Coach Jose Oquendo held up the potential game-tying run Randy Winn, whom it appeared, would have scored easily on the play.

Pittsburgh (42-84) wins 4-3 over St. Louis (68-55).

The Pittsburgh Pirates, a ball club who has won just three times in their last 16 games, spoiled Adam Wainwright’s chances of winning a major league best 18 games on Tuesday night.

Things were going smooth for Wainwright and the Cards until the sixth inning,when the Pirates tied the game at two a piece with a RBI triple by Jose Tabata and a RBI single by Neil Walker.

Walker, a rookie, added a 2-RBI base-hit in the seventh against Wainwright to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead.

It was the same score in the ninth, when Skip Schumaker took an Evan Meeks offering the other way for a pinch-hit single to start things off.

Next up, Randy Winn was the pinch hitter for Fernando Salas.  Winn singled on a ground ball to shortstop Ronny Cedeno, and Aaron Miles, who was also pinch-hitting, sacrificed the runners over to 2nd and 3rd with one out.

After Schumaker scored to make it 4-3 on a ground ball by Jon Jay, in stepped Albert Pujols with two runners and only one out.

Pujols singled sharply on a ground ball that was deflected off third baseman Pedro Alvarez and in to left field.  Randy Winn was rounding third hard, while SS Cedeno was quickly pursuing the ball in shallow left.

Then, for whatever reason, Jose Oquendo put the breaks on Randy Winn at third, while Cedeno was still at least ten feet from the ball.  Unfortunately, that’s exactly where Winn would stay to end the ballgame.  Matt Holliday and Felipe Lopez both popped out with the bases loaded, and the Cardinals lose a tough one to the Pirates, 4-3.

In his own defense, “I’ve got the fourth hitter [Holliday] coming, and Cedeno got to the ball pretty quick,” Oquendo said after the game. “If he hesitates, it’s different. But he got to the ball, so I can’t take a chance with that. Fourth hitter. And he [Cedeno] has a gun.”

If you were watching the game, you could clearly see Albert Pujols felt differently by his reaction to the fact that Winn didn’t score.  Let’s just say the slugger wasn’t happy, at all, and rightfully so.  If you watch the Cardinals on a regular basis, you know that Pujols runs through more stop signs at third, than a 80-year-old senior citizen with cataracts or a preoccupied teenage girl with two thumbs, or… (insert punch line in comment section below)

But this is no laughing matter for St. Louis, who had Pittsburgh on the ropes and was in reach for a comeback and their fourth-straight victory.

St. Louis, who still trails Cincinnati and Philadelphia in the NL Central and NL Wild Card races, will try to win the rubber match of the three-game set Wednesday night.  Cardinals vs. Pirates, 7:05 PM ET.

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