Cardinals get walk-off win to end first half of season

Sunday, July 8, 2012 | 5:41 p.m. CDT; updated 7:09 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 8, 2012
St. Louis Cardinals' Rafael Furcal celebrates with David Freese after their 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins in a baseball game, Sunday, July 8, 2012, in St. Louis. Freese scored the winning run on a single hit by Furcal.

ST. LOUIS — Rafael Furcal capped a three-run ninth-inning rally with a two-run, bases-loaded single off Heath Bell that gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday.

Pinch hitter Austin Kearns put the Marlins up 4-2 with a three-run home run in the seventh.

The blown save was the sixth in 25 chances for Bell (2-5). The right-hander gave up a run while earning his 19th save in the series opener Friday.

Mitchell Boggs (2-1) struck out Donovan Solano with the bases loaded to end the ninth.

Furcal also had an RBI single in the fifth and has 36 RBIs overall, most among National League leadoff men. He singled to left on a 1-2 pitch and David Freese barely beat catcher John Buck's tag for the winning run.

The Cardinals took two of three from Miami and headed into the All-Star break on a 6-2 streak.

The Marlins finished the series without two of their stars. Giancarlo Stanton, the team's lone All-Star, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Sunday after playing just two innings a day earlier, and Hanley Ramirez was taken out after five innings of the series finale with a lacerated right finger.

Omar Infante added three hits and Logan Morrison and Greg Dobbs extended their hitting streaks to 11 games for Miami, which despite the loss has won seven of 11.

Tony Cruz cut the deficit to a run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly with one out in the ninth and Daniel Descalso coaxed an 11-pitch walk to load the bases again ahead of Furcal's winning hit. Furcal, who had been 0 for 4 with the bases loaded and 0 for 10 the last two seasons, is 5 for 14 against Bell with four RBIs and four walks.

The top three in the Marlins' order, Jose Reyes, Ramirez and Carlos Lee, were a collective 1 for 31 with five walks, an RBI and two runs. Florida pitchers held Cardinals All-Star Carlos Beltran to a single in 13 at-bats.

Rookie Joe Kelly allowed an unearned run in six innings for the Cardinals. But manager Mike Matheny's attempt to finesse the seventh with three relievers flopped when Mikael Cleto gave up a double and a walk with one out to the only batters he faced and Kearns greeted Victor Marte with his third career pinch homer on a 2-0 fastball that landed an estimated 409 feet in the visitor's bullpen in left-center.

Furcal's RBI single in the fifth had put the Cardinals ahead 2-1. Skip Schumaker had an RBI single in the second and Matt Holliday extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Florida starter Anibal Sanchez gave up two runs in six innings and walked none for just the second time this season. He entered Sunday's start 2-6 with a 5.64 ERA over 10 starts, but also was stingy against the Cardinals on June 27 at home when he allowed three runs in seven innings and got the win in a 5-3 victory.

Mike Dunn didn't allow a hit in 1 2-3 innings and Steve Cishek struck out Holliday with a man on third to end the eighth. St. Louis hitters are 1 for 19 against Cishek, who worked 1 2/3 hitless innings on Friday in a 3-2 victory.

The Marlins took the lead without a hit in the first, fueled by one-out walks to Ramirez and Carlos. Ramirez stole second on the first pitch to Lee, the pair pulled off a double steal as Logan Morrison struck out on a full count and Ramirez scored without a play after Cruz threw wildly into left field.

Kelly struck out five and walked five, but kept his pitch count manageable by allowing just two hits and getting two double plays — one that he started himself after snaring a liner by John Buck in the second. Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist visited after 10 of Kelly's first 18 pitches were balls.

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