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SF@STL: Craig blasts a two-run tater to left

ST. LOUIS -- A day after winning his first game in over 10 months, Cardinals reliever Ryan Franklin picked up the loss as the Giants rallied in 11 innings to win, 7-5, on Wednesday.

After Franklin retired the side in the 10th, San Francisco got to him in the 11th. Freddy Sanchez started the rally with a double and then scored on a single from Nate Schierholtz. Brandon Crawford brought home Schierholtz with a single to stretch the defending World Series champions' lead to two.

"To be honest, I felt better the first inning than I did the second," said Franklin, who has gone 5 2/3 innings in the last five days. "The first inning was good and I was trying to battle through that second inning. The pitch to Sanchez, I just didn't hit my spot on that. And then the Schierholtz [pitch] was a changeup that was up a little bit."

Things were looking good for the Cardinals entering the ninth with a 5-4 lead, but Fernando Salas blew his first save in 11 chances. The right-hander retired the first two batters he faced before things turned against him. He walked Aubrey Huff, who was lifted for Emmanuel Burriss to pinch-run. Burriss stole second and then scored on a single from Schierholtz to tie the game.

Schierholtz's clutch hits came as no surprise, though, to San Francisco.

"This guy's really starting to turn into a Major Leaguer," Huff said. "He's getting a lot of at-bats this year and he's taking advantage of them."

Schierholtz admitted it was beneficial to see Salas' stuff Tuesday, when the reliever picked up his 10th save.

"I knew what he was coming with," the outfielder said. "A lot of changeups, that's his pitch."

A light-tower malfunction with two outs in the bottom of the 11th delayed the game for 16 minutes before Giants closer Brian Wilson finished it off with one pitch.

The loss overshadowed a huge hit from Allen Craig.

Craig smashed his first career pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning, a two-run blast that put the Cardinals up, 5-4. It was the second clutch hit in as many nights for the second-year man, who had the game-tying RBI in Tuesday's come-from-behind victory. Wednesday's big hit prompted the crowd to ask for a curtain call.

"We did everything we could but not enough," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

The Cardinals' bats were relatively quiet for most of the night but finally came alive in the seventh. Daniel Descalso got things rolling with a triple to set up Craig's 407-foot blast. Ryan Theriot and Jon Jay added back-to-back singles to chase San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum, who allowed a season-high 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings.

The seventh-inning rally took reliever Miguel Batista off the hook for the loss after he gave up a 414-foot solo shot to Huff in the top of the frame.

Jake Westbrook started the game for the Cardinals, giving up three earned runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.

The Cards manufactured some offense in the fourth, taking advantage of a stolen base by Colby Rasmus and a pair of seeing-eye singles from Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker. Schumaker's hit plated Rasmus, and Molina scored from third on a wild pitch to give St. Louis a 3-0 advantage.

Things came undone for Westbrook, though, in the sixth. Cody Ross doubled home Schierholtz and after an Eli Whiteside sac fly and an RBI double from Andres Torres, Westbrook's day was done.

"I'm staring at a 3-0 lead there in the sixth and I gave it right back to them, which is disappointing on my part and something I need to do a better job of," Westbrook said. "Up 3-0 against that team, you can't let them back in the ballgame."

Theriot extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games with a RBI single in the third inning that plated Descalso. His hit streak is the longest active streak in the Majors.

St. Louis leads Milwaukee in the National League Central by 2 1/2 games. Comments