ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 24: Adron Chambers #56 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates with his teammates after scoring on a wild pitch by Carlos Marmol #49 of the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on September 24, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Cardinals are still alive, winning 2-1 in Chicago. Coupled with Atlanta's loss in Washington, the Cardinals managed to make up a full game on the Braves for the NL Wild Card race. Passing the Braves is still a long shot -- they trail by two games with just five remaining -- but it's definitely within reach.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals loaded the bases against Marmol, thanks to a single by Matt Holliday followed by a pair of walks by Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker. Ryan Theriot came to the plate with two outs ... only to draw yet another walk on a full count, forcing home a run and tying the game. Rafael Furcal was next to the plate, but he didn't have to do anything as Marmol uncorked a wild pitch that went all the way to the backstop, allowing pinch-runner Adron Chambers to score standing up.
To call it an unlikely ending is an understatement -- the Cardinals haven't won a game like this in a decade, let alone one with such important playoff implications. From Chris Tunno, Cardinals media relations specialist:
Needless to say, the Cardinals were excited ... almost taking out their manager in the post-game celebration:
Manager Tony La Russa said he got accidentally punched in the jaw during the ensuing celebration. He said it was sore, but didn’t seem to mind.
"I’d need to have to settle down and replay the inning because I’m not sure exactly what happened," La Russa said. "Guys were excited, (stuff) flying all over that dugout. Right, left, elbows, high fives, low 10s."
On Sunday the Cardinals will finish their series with the Cubs, while the Braves will play their rubber match with the Nationals. Atlanta's magic number is only three, making every game a virtual must-win for the Cards.