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ARI@STL: Craig belts homer to reduce Cards' deficit

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals waited out a rain delay until 3 a.m. on Thursday, were rained out on Friday and played a split doubleheader Saturday. So it was only fitting that Tuesday night's game against Arizona stretched beyond midnight.

The Cardinals dropped a 4 hour, 53 minute, 14-inning marathon, 7-6, to the Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium.

"It's been weird, but we know what we're up against," David Freese said. "Sixth-month grind, especially against the big leagues. It's a tough gig. It just adds to the toughness of what we're made of, going through stuff like this. Just battle the elements. That's what you got to do."

Michael Wacha started the game for St. Louis and appeared to be headed toward another memorable performance in his second big league game.

The rookie right-hander struck out the side in the first, but he stumbled through the remainder of his 4 1/3-inning outing. The Cardinals bullpen smothered Arizona's offense to help St. Louis force extra innings, but reliever Victor Marte spoiled the comeback by allowing Arizona to steal the one-run victory in the 14th inning.

Relievers Seth Maness, Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica and Keith Butler combined to allow just three hits in 8 1/3 scoreless innings. With Joe Kelly scheduled for a spot start Wednesday, the bullpen was left shorthanded and manager Mike Matheny turned to Marte, one of the last men standing.

Marte walked two and gave up a single to Paul Goldschmidt, allowing Gerardo Parra to score the go-ahead run.

Heath Bell, who has struggled against the Cardinals in the past, allowed a double to Yadier Molina on his first pitch, but he struck out two to seal the win.

After dazzling in with a two-hit, one-run debut last week, Wacha allowed six earned runs on 10 hits and one walk. Arizona second baseman Willie Bloomquist had two singles and two doubles against the rookie and A.J. Pollock launched a three-run homer on an 0-2 count in the fourth.

"That was a huge mistake, especially with [pitcher Tyler] Skaggs on deck and an open base at first. That was just dumb on my part," Wacha said. "With the base open, I shouldn't be scared to walk him there and really just make him hit my pitch, instead of me serving one up to him."

After allowing back-to-back runs on a pair of singles, Wacha was pulled in the fifth. Maness inherited two of Wacha's runners and struck out Pollock to stop the bleeding.

"I saw some inconsistency in the zone today," Matheny said of Wacha's performance. "Didn't locate his fastball well. Actually, his changeup had a little sail to it as well. He made some good pitches at times, and there were some others where he got into a bind and needed to make a tough pitch. That's a good lineup over there."

Josh Collmenter earned the win for the D-backs with five strikeouts and one walk in four scoreless innings. Marte was tagged with the loss for St. Louis.

The Cardinals kept it within reach behind homers from Allen Craig and Shane Robinson. Craig knocked a two-RBI blast over the center-field wall in the fourth, and Robinson lined the first pitch of the fifth into the crowd of 39,222. Skaggs surrendered both homers for a total of five earned runs on six hits.

"This St. Louis club, they've got the best record in baseball," said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. "They're very well managed, they've got a lot of talent. You make mistakes, they make you pay."

Carlos Beltran narrowly stole third base in a controversial play in the sixth, setting up Yadier Molina's two-out RBI single to cut the deficit and bump the Cardinals' National League-leading two-out runs total to 122. Beltran drove in the game-tying run in the next frame with an RBI single.

"We're always gonna fight. We expect that," Freese said. "We're not going anywhere. To get to the postseason, we're going to have to win some tough games. They got us tonight but we've done a good job so far, showing up and being ready to go."

St. Louis threatened to end it in the ninth when Craig approached the plate with runners on second and first, but he grounded out softly to send the game into extra innings.

Matt Carpenter opened the game with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Matt Holliday. Carpenter has now scored 19 runs in the first inning this season. He had two hits, extending his hit streak to 13 games, and he was hit by three pitches, tying the Major League record for most in a game.

David Freese also stretched his personal-best hit streak to 14 games with the first four-hit night of his career.

"It was a bummer we lost. That's what I think about," Freese said. "It's about 'W's, putting on the Cardinal uniform and playing in the postseason. That's what it's all about. And collectively as a team, we got to show up and find a way to win."

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