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Punto's triple in 11th carries Cardinals over Braves

Apr 30, 2011 - 5:13 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Nick Punto's triple during the 11th inning scored a pair runs to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in the opener of the three-game series.

Yadier Molina went 2-for-3 with an RBI while Daniel Descalso drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who have won three straight and seven of the last nine games.

Eduardo Sanchez (1-0) got the win, pitching scoreless ninth and tenth innings. Trever Miller got the save, his first and the Cardinals' fifth pitcher to record a save this season.

"Any win's a good win," said Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, who allowed three runs in seven innings. "I don't really care how we do it. I'm going to keep going and do my job to the best I can to give my team a chance to win."

Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth each had home runs for the Braves, who had a two-game win streak snapped. Cory Gearrin (0-1) was handed the loss in 1 2/3 innings, surrendering the two runs on Punto's triple.

"It is a tough loss," said Atlanta starter Tim Hudson, who lasted six innings and yielded two runs. "We felt like we had the game in hand for the most part until right at the very end."

Friday wasn't a usual day for the Braves organization, which had to deal with several off-the-field distractions that have come to fruition recently. On Thursday night, pitcher Derek Lowe was arrested on a charge of DUI. Meanwhile, the club placed Roger McDowell on administrative leave earlier Friday following an incident that alleged the pitching coach directed homophobic slurs toward a group of fans last week in San Francisco.

It just wasn't the Braves' night where they had the lead twice through the game, but Cardinals stormed back each time and finally got the winning runs in the 11th.

Gearrin pegged Ryan Theriot with one out in the 11th, but Descalso struck out for the second out. Gearrin walked pinch-hitter Mark Hamilton, putting runners on first and second, to set up Nick Punto's triple to right field.

Jason Motte got the first two outs during the bottom of the frame for the Cards. Miller then came in came in for the final out, which McLouth lifted a long fly ball to the warning track in left to end the game.

The Braves appeared to put all the off-the-field issues behind them in the first inning when Heyward lifted a solo shot into the right field seats. Chipper Jones followed that with a double and he scored on Dan Uggla's double for a early 2-0 lead.

St. Louis knotted the game in the fourth, which was led off by an Albert Pujols single. He then moved to third on Lance Berkman's single and touched home on Molina's sacrifice fly to center. Berkman moved to second on Theriot's single and scored on a Descalso liner that dropped into center to tie the game.

McLouth took the second pitch he saw from Carpenter and belted it over the right field fence to put the Braves up 3-2 in the seventh.

Jonny Venters came in to pitch a shutout eighth, but St. Louis pushed the tying run across in the ninth when Descalso launched a sacrifice fly. Molina and Theriot singled to start the inning against Craig Kimbrel.

Game Notes

St. Louis won six of eight meetings with Atlanta a year ago and split four matchups at Turner Field...St. Louis is 1-2 in extra innings this season...Carpenter remains winless on the year (0-2)...Despite Lowe's legal issues, he will start on Sunday for the Braves.