For a change, Kent Bottenfield needed bailing out.
Eli Marrero hit a three-run double in the eighth inning as the St. Louis Cardinals overcame a six-run fifth inning against their ace to beat the Chicago White Sox 8-6 Saturday night.
"I'm glad it ended the way it did," Bottenfield said. "I deserved to lose that game, but the team didn't."
Bottenfield squandered a chance to become the NL's only 15-game winner when he allowed six runs in the fifth inning, including a grand slam to Magglio Ordonez.
But Bottenfield avoided the loss with the Cardinals' rally. Ray Lankford and Fernando Tatis singled off Bryan Ward (0-1) to open the inning. After the runners advanced on a sacrifice, Bill Simas intentionally walked Joe McEwing to load the bases.
Marrero, in a 2-for-17 slump that lowered his average to .205, then cleared the bases with a drive to the gap in left-center.
"I hung it and he hit it," Simas said. "That's terrible."
Marrero said countless sessions with batting instructor Mike Easler finally paid off.
"The past two months I was changing my stance like every at-bat," Marrero said. "I've had like 18 million things on my mind going around. Today, I think we finally got it exactly how I want it to stay the whole year."
Manuel threatened a possible bullpen overhaul after his team blew its second save chance in three games against the Cardinals.
"There could be some moves coming up," Manuel said. "We're going to have to look at that situation very carefully."
Garrett Stephenson (1-0) allowed one hit and a walk in a scoreless eighth. Ricky Bottalico pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 16 opportunities. Bottalico loaded the bases with one out before getting Ordonez to foul out and Darrin Jackson to ground out.
Bottenfield, who made his first career All-Star appearance on Tuesday, didn't allow a hit until Ray Durham singled with two outs in the third. He fell apart in the fifth nd remained one victory behind major-league leader Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox.
On the other hand, Bottenfield regrouped and worked two more hitless innings after the fifth to keep the Cardinals close.
"You try not to give in," Bottenfield said. "It was tough in the fifth inning, but if I give up, maybe I make it worse and don't give us a chance."
A two-out RBI triple by pitcher James Baldwin, his first career hit, started Chicago's climb from a 4-0 deficit. Ordonez's second grand slam of the season capped it. Bottenfield allowed six runs and five hits in seven innings.
J.D. Drew had a three-run homer and Tatis had a solo shot off Baldwin, who allowed five runs on six hits in five innings. Baldwin has allowed 25 homers, the second-highest total in the majors behind Jeff Fassero's 28.
The Cardinals played all but one inning without Mark McGwire, who left with slight muscle spasms in the left side of his lower back after striking out to end the first.
McGwire had two homers, his 30th and 31st, and had six RBIs on Friday night. He was replaced at first base by Shawon Dunston, who was 0-for-3 with a run-scoring groundout in the fifth, as a precautionary measure.
Trainer Barry Weinberg said McGwire could play Sunday, depending on how he feels.
"He hit so many, I guess he was sore," Manuel said. "That's the only way we can get him out."
Craig Wilson singled with one out in the fifth and scored on a drive into the right-field corner by Baldwin, who had been 0-for-5 at the plate for his career. Chris Singleton added an RBI single and Bottenfield walked two batters before Ordonez's 20th homer.
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