The Bottom Line:

— The St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday night in an 19-inning marathon game by a score of 6-3. They are now one game behind the Pirates in the wild card.

Jaime Garcia started for the Cardinals, giving up two runs (both unearned) and five hits over eight strong innings. He walked none and struck out ten.

— On his generally scheduled start day, Joe Kelly pitched terrifically, giving up one earned run over  5 2/3 innings, in addition to two walks and four strikeouts.

— The game was 2-2 heading into extra innings, and remained so until the 17th inning when both the Cards and Pirates scratched out a run, making the game 3-3.

— Pedro Alvarez hit his 23rd home run of the season in the nineteenth inning off of Barret Browning (1-3), giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead.

What a game…Obviously this is a game the Cardinals could have won…I’m reluctant to say that they SHOULD have won, as it’s hard to justify why one team should have won over another when a game goes 19 innings long, but this is as heartbreaking as it gets. As a fan, these are the types of games that you remember for the rest of your life, and it’s just painful to be on the losing end of it.

The pitching was obviously tremendous tonight. Before Browning came in, they had given up one earned run in eighteen innings of work along with nineteen strikeouts. I’m not too sure what Mike Matheny would have done had it not been Joe Kelly’s original start date, because he truly bailed out the Cardinals bullpen for nearly six innings.

The offense is clearly where the Cardinals got lost in this one. They had ample opportunities to score in so many innings, and similar to their 20-inning game with the New York Mets a couple of years ago, they just could not get that winning run across. They had runners on base in the 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15, and 18th innings, yet they could not score the winning run, leaving a total of 26 runners on base throughout the game. The alarming statistic in this one, in my opinion, is that Matt Holliday and David Freese went a combined 0-for-15. There is no deep analysis required for that one. You would think that between two of your best hitters on the team, one of them would do something productive.

This was obviously not the first time the Pirates have been in this sort of situation, as they lost in a 19-inning game a year ago due to a bad call from umpire Jerry Meals, a game that many say was the cause of their demise in 2011. Moreover, the Pirates are clearly a stronger and better team than they were a year ago. As I’ve said on multiple occasions, this team is not going away quickly. We don’t have to go crazy — there is still over a month left to go in the season and the Cards are only two games out of a playoff spot — but this will not be an easy ride for the next 45 days. Hopefully this team can dust themselves off and head into Houston with a fresh outlook and start winning again. This was a big series and heartbreaking one, but it wasn’t the end of their season. Let’s Go Cards.

What’s Next: The Cardinals have an off-day on Monday when they will travel to Houston to take on the Astros in a three-game set that begins on Tuesday night. All pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog.