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LAD@STL: Furcal gives Cards walk-off win in the 12th

ST. LOUIS -- It had been a rough night for Rafael Furcal. Five plate appearances and still without a hit.

But as Furcal stepped into the box in a tied game in the 12th inning, a man waiting on second to come home and end a nearly four-hour marathon, Furcal made sure to shorten up his swing.

The result? A single into left field to give the Cardinals a 3-2 win at Busch Stadium, their second consecutive win over the Dodgers.

"You have to because I was 0-for-4 and hadn't hit the ball good all night," said Furcal, who also walked. "With a man on second base I just tried to choke up a bit and put the ball in play."

Pinch-hitter Lance Berkman walked with one out in the 12th. Berkman had been out of the Cardinals' staring lineup while nursing a deep bone bruise on his right knee that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch on Tuesday.

Berkman quickly fell behind 1-2 in the count but battled in a seven-pitch at-bat against Jamey Wright to get on base as the go-ahead run. Berkman reached first base and headed for the dugout as pitcher Joe Kelly was called upon to pinch-run.

"We had one chance to use [Lance], and he's had some success against Wright in the past," manager Mike Matheny said. "It lined up well and he put together a great at-bat and gave us a chance."

Nobody may have been more relieved for St. Louis to come away with the win than Kelly. Matt Carpenter singled to right-center with two down, and Kelly slipped heading around second. Kelly, however, scored easily from second when Dodgers left fielder Tony Gwynn misplayed Furcal's single.

Kelly said Berkman had called him a "baby giraffe" afterward, "fast but not under control." While he'll deal with the jokes, Kelly was just happy to be on the field for a walk-off.

"I think I'm gonna work on my baserunning," Kelly said with a smile. "I know I'm pretty fast, I just have to keep it under control."

St. Louis had just four hits heading into the 12th. Dodgers starter Aaron Harang held the Cardinals at bay for 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts. Kyle Lohse was just as effective, as he turned in his 10th straight quality start.

Los Angeles scored first on a James Loney sacrifice fly in the second. Hanley Ramirez, acquired earlier in the day from the Marlins, tripled off the center-field wall in his first at-bat with the Dodgers, and Loney brought him in one batter later.

The Dodgers' lead didn't last long, as the Cardinals tied the game at one in the bottom half of the second. Allen Craig walked to lead off the inning, moved to third on Yadier Molina's single and scored on a David Freese double-play grounder. Craig has scored a team-high 15 runs this month.

Freese led off the fifth with a double down the right-field line and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lohse, who fouled off three pitches before hitting a fly ball just deep enough into right to score Freese. The RBI was the first of the season for Lohse.

Lohse allowed two runs on seven hits over seven innings. He was hit hard at times, as four of those seven hits were for extra bases, but also didn't walk a batter for the sixth time this season.

Despite the continued success he's had this year, Lohse isn't looking to get complacent any time soon.

"I do the same things that I've done all my career," Lohse said. "It just that I have a good feel for what I'm trying to do out there, and like I said, I don't know how many times this year ... I'm healthy. I'm able to execute my pitches, keep it down in the zone and I'm getting ahead of guys. It's pretty much the same formula."

While Lohse has found a reusable formula for himself, he also feels there's an easy way for the Cardinals' pitching staff to be at its best every night. When the starters get the job done -- as they have recently with 20 straight starts of at least six innings dating to June 30 -- it takes much more stress off the bullpen.

St. Louis' bullpen was a little more busy than usual on Wednesday, considering the club played its ninth extra-inning game of the year, but Lohse's outing set up the bullpen to work as Matheny hopes it does each night.

Mitchell Boggs threw a perfect eighth inning, and Jason Motte and Fernando Salas (1-3) each threw two scoreless innings in relief. Collectively, the three allowed one hit and one walk.

"If were going six, seven innings every time, it gives Mike the ability to put guys in better situations," Lohse said. "They're doing their job and it's fun to watch."

The bullpen has had held opponents scoreless in seven of St. Louis' last eight games. The five shutout innings on Wednesday were a season high.

After losing five out of six on their first road trip of the second half, the Cardinals have won five out of six on their current homestand. But just as Lohse doesn't want to get to comfortable on the mound, he feels his club recognizes that every day is a new day.

"You can't let your concentration go down or get a way from the things that we're doing right now that are making us successful," Lohse said. "That's grinding out at-bats, playing good defense and pitching well. Every day we have to come in with that same mindset and try to do it again."

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