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Cardinals Still in First Place, Only Less So, After 15th Inning Loss to Rockies

The Cards fought the good fight for most of 15 innings, struggling in the rarified air in Denver. Fernando Salas allowed the winning run after almost two innings of work.

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Coors Field is a tough place to play, and the challenges of the venue were on full display tonight. The Cardinals struggled to keep the ball down while pitching and saw a lot of balls drop into the vast expanses of hard-to-patrol space in the outer reaches of Denver's outfield.

Michael Wacha pitched a game that had all the hallmarks of a little Coors Field victimization. Wacha struck out 7 guys and walked none in fewer than five innings, but he also allowed 12 hits, including a home run. The BABIP against him tonight was .647. Whatever the reason that two-thirds of the balls hit into fair territory were going for hits, it's hard to see good results when you can't get outs on batted balls. And Wacha wasn't seeing an oversupply of balls in the air; his ground ball rate was basically the same as his season number: 44% tonight versus 43% for his MLB season.

While a parade of relievers managed to keep runs from scoring - Seth Maness, Sam Freeman, Siegrist, Axford, Lyons - two of the better arms struggled at important spots. Rosenthal saw a botched play and a couple of hard hit balls to the outfield turn into a run. Edward Mujica was not able to keep the ball in the stadium, allowing a solo home run. These things happen, though, especially in Coors. Salas entered in the tail end of the 13th, pitched the whole of the 14th, and got one out in the 15th, before a single and a triple ended the game.

The Cardinals were not able to take advantage of the thin air tonight. Matt Carpenter went a shocking 0-6 (though he walked once). The Cardinals did see mult-hit games from Jay, Beltran, Holliday, and Freese. Holliday had a stunning .860 OBP for the day, going 3-4 with 3 walks. Behind only two extra-base hits, the Cardinals managed only to keep pace with the Rockies in scoring.

It was a frustrating end to a game that tied and fell back into the Rockies' hands on multiple occasions. Still, it was a great September game.