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Jason Heyward's 12th Inning Homer Leads Braves To 9-7 Victory Over Cardinals

The Atlanta Braves got out to an early 5-1 lead on Friday evening against the St. Louis Cardinals, but that lead was quickly erased as Mike Minor struggled throughout the middle innings. Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig hit back-to-back homers to cut the deficit to 5-3 in the fourth inning, and then a Matt Holliday double and Beltran triple gave the Cardinals a 6-5 lead.

Dan Uggla tied the game up in the seventh inning with a solo homer down the left field line. Freddie Freeman then gave the Braves a 7-6 lead on an infield single. Beltran then hit another home run in the eighth -- the first that Jonny Venters has surrendered all season -- to tie the game once again.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with only one out in the 10th against Livan Hernandez, but pinch-hitter David Freese grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat. St. Louis loaded the bases once again in the 11th with two outs, but Craig popped up weakly to shallow center field for the final out.

Chipper Jones walked to lead off the 12th inning. Jason Heyward followed with a monster two-run homer to left-center field, taking a high fastball the opposite way to give Atlanta a commanding 9-7 lead.

Craig Kimbrel came in for the save and surrendered a leadoff single to Yadier Molina, but the struck out Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson for the first two outs. Skip Schumaker then grounded out weakly to shortstop Jack Wilson for the final out, securing a huge 9-7 victory for the Braves.

What an awesome, thrilling game on a night the Cardinals honored and retired Tony La Russa's number.

The two clubs will meet again on Saturday evening. Brandon Beachy and Adam Wainwright will be the starters.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.