ST. LOUIS — Mark Reynolds thought he was stepping on the bag at first base for the final out of the eighth. That was just one of the many botched opportunities the Milwaukee Brewers could commiserate about.
"We had lots of chances to win the game, it's just getting a hit from somebody," he said.
The Brewers had two on and one out in the 10th against Pat Neshek and the 3-4 hitters coming up, but Jonathan Lucroy struck out and Aramis Ramirez grounded out. They loaded the bases with two outs in the 11th against Carlos Martinez, who escaped by striking out Carlos Gomez, and Martinez then fanned Ryan Braun with a man on second to end the 12th.
The Brewers are 3 1/2 games behind the Pirates for the second NL wild card entering a three-game series at Pittsburgh starting Friday night.
"We've got to win tomorrow," starter Kyle Lohse said. "We can't worry about the games ahead of us.
"We put ourselves in this situation, we've got to get ourselves out and it starts tomorrow," he said.
The defending National League champions took two of three in a tight series that featured only 12 runs and another game that lasted 12 innings, and lead the division by 2 1/2 games with nine games to go. They begin their final home series of the year Friday night with the first of three against Cincinnati.
Ramirez and Scooter Gennett had an RBI apiece for the Brewers. Jonathan Lucroy's 45th double as a catcher tied the major league record for the position set by Ivan Rodriguez in 1996 and was his major league-leading 52nd overall.
Cruz singled up the middle with one out for the third hit of the 13th against Jimmy Nelson (2-8) and Matt Adam scored from second.
Four straight St. Louis hitters reached against Jonathan Broxton with two outs in the eighth to tie it, resulting in the seventh blown save in Lohse's starts. Jon Jay had an RBI single and Matt Adams drew his second bases-loaded walk of the series after Matt Holliday kept the inning alive with a headfirst dive into first for an infield hit.
That call was overturned after the Cardinals asked for a replay review.
Earlier in the eighth, Reynolds got confused after a pitching change and thought there were two outs instead of one, so he didn't try for a double play on pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski's groundout. He just stepped on the bag instead.
"Mistakes like that can't happen, obviously, especially in this point in the season," Reynolds said. "Everyone had their hands on their heads. It was an easy double-play ball, especially with Pierzynski running."
Sam Freeman (2-0) had two strikeouts in a perfect 13th — the most innings in a Cardinals game.
Ramirez had two hits and has two homers and 10 RBIs against St. Louis this year.
Shelby Miller retired the first 11 in order before surrendering three straight two-out hits in the fourth, a rally started by Lucroy's double. Miller has allowed two earned runs in 26 innings this month and St. Louis starters have allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven straight starts.
Brewers starters have a 1.74 ERA in the last eight games. Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter is 1 for 16 against Lohse.
Brewers: Yovani Gallardo (8-10, 3.59) gets the call in the opener of a three-game series at Pittsburgh. He's 0-4 with a 5.25 ERA in his last five starts. The Brewers are 11-5 against the Pirates this year and 87-41 since 2007.
Cardinals: John Lackey makes his first start in nine days after getting skipped for the Milwaukee series. He's 2-2 with a 5.05 ERA for St. Louis and 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA overall.
Both teams failed to get the bunt down late. Pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos fouled off two attempts, the last resulting in a strikeout in the ninth and Gomez fouled out to catcher Cruz in the 10th.