Yankees score three in 12th in 6-4 victory over Cardinals

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, left, and Brian

New York Yankees' Brett Gardner, left, and Brian Roberts celebrate after Roberts scored on sacrifice fly by Gardner during the fifth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 26, 2014, in St. Louis. The Yankees went on to win 6-4 after 12 innings. Photo Credit: AP / Jeff Roberson

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ST. LOUIS - As Joe Girardi walked away from his postgame media scrum early Monday night, he shook his head.

"Another short day," he said wearily to no one in particular.

It has been that kind of trip for the Yankees, who, on this marathon nine-game journey through three different ballparks, have played one marathon contest after another.

But here's the thing with the aging, still very much injury-prone Yankees: They keep winning enough of them, most recently a 6-4, 12-inning victory over the Cardinals in front of 47,311 at Busch Stadium.

It was the third extra-inning game the Yankees have played (and won) on this 4-3 trip. Two of the losses went down to the final batter in the ninth.

"Feels like we play extra-innings every day," Brian Roberts said. "But it's always good to win those. Probably pretty unique to have three in seven games, that's a lot. To win three of them is pretty good."

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The Yankees had Roberts to thank for snapping the tie in the 12th, as his one-out, bases-loaded single off Randy Choate gave them a 4-3 lead.

But they had Brett Gardner to thank for getting that far. He made one of the highlight catches of the season for the Yankees in the bottom of the 11th, going up against the wall in left-center to catch a drive by Yadier Molina that replays showed might have left the park otherwise.

Gardner called the play "easy"; that was not the prevailing opinion. "That's probably the difference in the game," Girardi said. "That's a great catch."

It saved the Yankees, and Alfredo Aceves, from a stinging defeat and allowed the offense to get the job done in the 12th. Roberts and Brendan Ryan contributed RBI singles and Alfonso Soriano had a sacrifice fly in a three-run inning that gave David Robertson a three-run cushion.

After Derek Jeter's throwing error, Robertson allowed an unearned run on Jon Jay's RBI double and twice faced the tying run at the plate. But he retired Matt Carpenter on a grounder and struck out Kolten Wong to move to 11-for-12 in save chances.

Jacoby Ellsbury walked to start the 12th and scored on Roberts' hit. In between, he stole second on cannon-armed catcher Yadier Molina, who already had gunned down Gardner. "As a base-stealer, I look forward to stuff like that," Ellsbury said. "But in those situations, I'm going to try and give my team a chance to win that game."

Chase Whitley again pitched well in his third major-league start and brought a 3-1 lead into the sixth. But when Matt Holliday doubled off the wall in left-center, Matt Adams singled and Molina was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out, Whitley's night was done.

Joe Girardi chose Preston Claiborne (11 strikeouts, six walks in 141/3 innings entering the game) rather than strikeout machine Dellin Betances (49 strikeouts, nine walks in 281/3 innings). Allen Craig's 6-4 forceout drove in a run and Jhonny Peralta's sacrifice fly tied it at 3-3. Betances kept it that way in the eighth and ninth innings, striking out two.

Girardi said he would have gone with Betances in the sixth, but Adam Warren was unavailable to pitch the eighth or ninth. Additionally, "some of these [other] guys are going to have to help us in tough situations."

The Yankees have found themselves in plenty of those. "It's a grind, but we've been playing pretty well," Gardner said. "We seem to stay really focused once we get into extra innings. We've got a great back end of the bullpen. It was a great win."

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