ST. LOUIS (AP) - Carlos Marmol's fastball was unreliable. His slider, too. It was one of those days for the Chicago Cubs closer.
The St. Louis Cardinals kept faint wild-card hopes alive when Marmol forced home the tying run with a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Theriot with two outs in the ninth inning and followed with a game-ending wild pitch for a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
``He's been good, I haven't seen that from him in a while,' manager Mike Quade said. ``It goes back to stuff we've talked about all. Its a tough nut when you're trying to protect a one-run lead and you're struggling with both pitches.'
Marmol (2-6) blew a save for the 10th time in 44 opportunities. He walked three or more batters for the third time, the last on Sept. 3 against the Pirates, and each time has taken the loss.
``I don't think he's every going to have lights-out command,' Quade said. ``His stuff can be so devastating, he needs hitters in swing mode. He really does.'
Marmol has walked 46 in 73 innings. Before Saturday, he hadn't allowed a run in 12 of his previous 14 appearances. He thought a full-count pitch to Ryan Theriot on the walk that forced in the tying run might have been a strike.
``It was close, I thought he was going to get called out,' Marmol said. ``I know they're taking a lot of pitches. I have to throw strikes.'
After losing consecutive games to the New York Mets and Cubs, the Cardinals closed to two games behind the wild-card leading Atlanta Braves. St. Louis plays the Cubs again Sunday, then finishes with three games at Houston.
Jason Motte (5-2) got two outs for the win as St. Louis ended a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings.
Rodrigo Lopez worked six scoreless innings and Andrew Cashner and Sean Marshall each worked a perfect inning before the Cardinals' rally that began with a single by Matt Holliday and a pair of two-out walks to Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker.
Lopez, eligible for free agency, wants to be back next year.
``Right now I would say 50-50, but we have to wait until we have a new general manager,' Lopez said. ``If it was me, I'd be 100 percent come back here.'
After the walk to Theriot, Marmol started Rafael Furcal with a called strike, then threw the next pitch in the dirt to the backstop as pinch-runner Adron Chambers scored standing up.
Holliday returned after a nine-game absence due to an injury to his right hand and Furcal was back at shortstop after committing a crucial error on a potential double-play Thursday, sparking the Mets' six-run rally. Furcal had made five errors in six games.
The Cubs bunched three of their six hits in the first, including Alfonso Soriano's RBI single off Kyle Lohse. So offense shared the blame with Marmol.
``Command just deserted him today. If you get beat with strikes, then so be it,' Quade said. ``We didn't do much offensively, either.'
Lohse had a season-high eight strikeouts and didn't allow a runner in scoring position his last six innings, retiring 10 in a row at one point. He has allowed 17 first-inning runs this year.
Albert Pujols walked in the sixth and has reached safely in 40 consecutive games, breaking a tie with Johnny Damon for the longest in the majors this season.
NOTES: Attendance of 42,571 was the Cardinals' best since a turnout of 43,960 on July 31, also against the Cubs. ... Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.85 ERA) faces the Cubs for the third time since joining the Cardinals in late July in Sunday's home finale, opposing Randy Wells (7-5, 5.09). Jackson is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA overall this year against the Cubs. ... Soriano has 27 RBIs in his last 28 games. He's batting .386 (17 for 44) against Lohse with three homers and 11 RBIs. ... Lance Berkman singled in the sixth and has a 12-game hitting streak. ... Cubs CF Marlon Byrd robbed Skip Schumaker in the seventh, charging to make a diving catch. ... Starlin Castro singled in the fifth and has reached base in 36 straight games. ... Soriano has nine RBIs in St. Louis, the most by any opposing player this year and his most at any ballpark other than Wrigley Field.
The Associated Press News Service
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