ST. LOUIS — After a game rife with missed opportunities and frustration, the St. Louis Cardinals finally did just enough to keep pace with the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
Center fielder Jon Jay looped a two-out RBI single to left-center in the bottom of the eighth Tuesday night to snap a tie and give the Cardinals a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox at Busch Stadium.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski started the rally with a two-out single, and right fielder Oscar Taveras singled to right-center. On a 1-0 pitch from reliever Junichi Tazawa (1-3), Jay produced the game-winning hit.
Reliever Pat Neshek (5-0) struck out the side in the eighth to earn the win, while closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a leadoff single in the ninth to pick up his NL-leading 35th save in 39 opportunities.
The Red Sox (49-63) took a 2-1 lead in the seventh when third baseman Will Middlebrooks’ tapper to pitcher Lance Lynn with one out and the bases loaded was bobbled. Lynn got the out at first, but left fielder Yoenis Cespedes scored the go-ahead run.
St. Louis (60-51) evened the score in its half of the seventh on a two-out RBI single by second baseman Kolten Wong, plating pinch-hitter Shane Robinson from second on a bang-bang play at the plate.
Lynn worked seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs, one earned. He walked one and fanned four.
Boston starter Rubby De La Rosa yielded six hits and a run in six innings, walking three and striking out three.
The Cardinals stayed a game behind Milwaukee, a 4-3 winner over San Francisco, despite stranding nine men on base and losing left fielder Matt Holliday when he was ejected after protesting a called third strike to end the seventh.
St. Louis dented the scoreboard first in the bottom of the fourth on a one-out RBI single by first baseman Matt Adams. But the Cardinals missed out on more, loading the bases with two walks before Taveras hacked at the first pitch and rapped into a 1-2-3 double play.
Boston tied it with an unearned run in the fifth. Right fielder Daniel Nava led off by reaching second on a two-base throwing error by third baseman Matt Carpenter, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by rookie catcher Christian Vazquez.
The Red Sox managed just one hit through five innings — a leadoff ground-rule triple in the second by Cespedes on fan interference of his blooper down the right field line. But Cespedes was cut down at the plate trying to score on a one-out grounder to third off the bat of shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Notes: Boston OF Allen Craig (foot) went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after being injured in Friday night’s 4-3 win over the New York Yankees. Craig, one of two players St. Louis traded Thursday to land RHP John Lackey, is hitting .237 with seven homers and 44 RBIs. ... Cardinals CF Jon Jay (wrist) was back in the lineup Tuesday night after a five-game absence, batting eighth. Jay was injured in a 3-1 loss July 29 at San Diego attempting to check his swing. ... St. Louis RHP Michael Wacha was cleared to start a throwing program by team doctors Monday. Wacha (stress reaction) went on the DL on June 22 and hopes to be back with the team in a month.