St. Louis Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia and New York Mets starter Johan Santana both acquitted themselves well Saturday.Â Both threw 7 scoreless innings, but neither was around at the finish.Â In 20 innings the Mets beat the Cardinals 2-1.Â The game took 6 hours and 53 minutes.Â The Mets used 4 starting pitchers in the game.Â Santana of course, and John Maine who appeared as a pinch runner in the 13th inning, and Jonathon Niese who pinch hit and struck out looking to end the top of the 15th, and Mike Pelfrey who came on in the bottom of the 20th inning.Â 24 Mets and 22 Cardinals appeared in the game.Â The Mets had a total of 9 hits in the game.
Angel Pagan led off the top of the 20th with a single.Â Mike Jacobs singled him to 3rd base.Â Jose Reyes hit a sacrifice fly to plate Pagan and give the Mets a 2-1 lead.Â In the bottom of the inning Pelfrey then recorded the 1st save of his career.Â But so much led to that.
Fernando Nieve, on pace to appear in 118 games this season, came on in the bottom of the 10th inning of a scoreless tie game with Cardinals on 1st and 2nd and 2 outs.Â He came in as part of a double switch with Alex Cora coming on to play 1B for only the 3rd time in his career.Â Nieve promptly walked Albert Pujols to load the bases.Â This was the first instance in the game that any base runner had reached 3rd base.Â Matt Holliday then popped up a foul ball which Cora trailed as it faded toward the stands.Â As he approached the tarp which is stored in front of the stands, Cora leapt into the air and caught Holliday’s foul pop, holding onto it for the 3rd out of the inning as he crashed down on the surprised fans sitting in the front row.Â Showing the class that St. Louis fans are renowned for they applauded Cora’s remarkable catch.
In the top of the 11th Pagan demonstrated his proclivity for bad base running, getting picked off 1B on the 8th throw over by Cardinal pitcher Trever Miller.Â Having learned a lesson from his poor execution of a pick off play in the previous game, Pujols didn’t make the same mistake twice, so with Pagan in a rundown this time Pujols threw the ball to his teammate at the appropriate time.Â Second baseman Skip Schumaker then tossed to Miller covering 1B who tagged out Pagan ending the inning.
The Mets 1st hit of the game didn’t come until the 6th inning.Â It was a lead off single by Pagan that broke up Garcia’s no hitter.Â Their 2nd hit of the game didn’t come until the 12th inning.Â It was a 1-out single by Luis Castillo, who was stranded at 1B when David Wright struck out for the 3rd time in the game, then Jason Bay struck out for the 4th time.
The Cardinals loaded the bases again in the bottom of the 12th.Â With 2 outs, Schumaker singled, then Ludwick reached on catcher’s interference when his bat was impeded on a swing by contact with Rod Barajas’ glove.Â Pujols was intentionally walked to load the bases.Â Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa had 1 position player left on his bench, back up catcher Bryan Anderson, but chose to let relief pitcher Jason Motte bat.Â He struck out.Â The Mets got 2 runners on with 2 outs in the top of the 14th, but Bay grounded into an inning ending fielder’s choice.
In the bottom of the 14th Joe Mather led off with a double off of Hisanori Takahashi.Â Brendan Ryan sacrifice bunted Mather to 3B and reached 1B safely when Takahashi bobbled the bunt and was charged with an error.Â Ryan then took 2B on fielder’s indifference putting runners on 2nd and 3rd with no one out.Â Takahashi then struck out Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick bringing Pujols to the plate.Â He was intentionally walked and once again the Cardinals let a relief pitcher bat with the bases loaded.Â This time Blake Hawksworth took a called 3rd strike sending the game to the 15th.
Pagan led off the 16th with a single to center.Â Jacobs showed that he could add something of value to this team, successfully sacrifice bunting for the 1st time in his major league career to move Pagan to 2nd base.Â Reyes grounded out moving him up to 3rd base and he became the 1st Met base runner of the game to reach 3rd, but Castillo struck out looking preventing him from becoming the 1st Met base runner to reach home plate.Â In the bottom of the 16th back-to-back 1-out singles by Ludwick and Pujols put runners on 1st and 2nd base.Â At last LaRussa sent up his final remaining position player, Anderson, to pinch hit.Â He grounded sharply to Castillo who flipped to Reyes covering 2nd base for the 2nd out.Â Meanwhile Ludwick rounded 3rd base and headed home.Â Reyes threw to catcher Henry Blanco who chased down then tagged out Ludwick for the 3rd out of the inning.
In the 18th inning things got completely ridiculous.Â The Cardinals began moving players completely out of position, putting back up utility player Felipe Lopez on the mound and pitcher Kyle Lohse in left field.Â Lopez induced Blanco to pop up to short center field where Ryan made an impressive catch running with his back to home plate.Â He bobbled the ball but held on.Â The next Mets batter was relief pitcher Raul Valdes who hit a grounder to deep shortstop that Ryan threw wildly to 1st base.Â As the wild throw bounced off the stands, Valdes headed to 2nd base but on his arrival he didn’t slide and was tagged out for the 2nd out of the inning.Â Jacobs then popped up to right field for the 3rd out.Â Valdes allowed a 1-out single to Ryan in the bottom of the inning but induced Schumaker to ground into an inning ending double.
In the 19th Cardinals back up outfielder Mather relieved Lopez on the mound.Â Mather walked Reyes leading off.Â Castillo sacrifice bunted Reyes to 2nd base.Â Wright was intentionally walked, then Bay was hit by a pitch which loaded the bases with 1 out.Â Reyes scored the 1st run of the game on a Jeff Francoeur sacrifice fly.Â So the Mets had the lead and brought their closer Francisco Rodriguez on to bring the game to a merciful end.Â So he promptly walked Ludwick, who was then caught stealing with Pujols at the plate.Â Pujols then doubled to the left-centerfield gap.Â Lohse grounded to shortstop with Pujols moving up to 3rd with 2 outs.Â Yadier Molina then singled sharply over 2nd to tie the game and bring the game to it’s fateful 20th inning.