ST. LOUIS – The words did not come easy for St. Louis manager Mike Matheny after the Cardinals were eliminated from postseason contention in a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the rival Cubs on Thursday night.
"This is the first time I've had to stand up here and say [it's] not going to happen," Matheny said. "We fell short of what we wanted to do."
St. Louis, which went 5-14 against the Cubs, missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007-08. At 82-77, the Cardinals are assured their fewest wins since going 78-84 in 2007.
"It's tough to swallow," outfielder Stephen Piscotty said.
A day after clinching their second straight National League Central title, the defending World Series champions started only two position players who had played in at least 100 games: outfielders Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber.
Taylor Davis took advantage of his fifth appearance of the season by hitting a two-out, run-scoring double in the 11th.
Cubs outfielder Leonys Martin sealed the victory with a game-saving catch of a long drive by Paul DeJong with two outs in the 11th. Martin reached over the wall to bring in the long drive.
"I thought it was gone," DeJong said. "I put a pretty good swing on it. It was an unbelievable way to end it. I'm still in shock."
Martin felt he had the ball all along.
"After a couple steps, it was the right time to jump," Martin said.
The Cardinals have played in 1,131 successive games with postseason hopes dating to March 31, 2011, opening day.
That streak will come to an end tomorrow against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"We have to find ways, individually and as a team, to get better, be more well rounded," St. Louis outfielder Tommy Pham said. "This is not unfamiliar now, it's two years in a row."
Schwarber singled off Matt Bowman (3-6) with one out in the 11th to start the winning rally. Davis, who had struck out in his first three at-bats, came through at the perfect time.
"Literally, it's the coolest thing I've ever done," Davis said.
Jen-Ho Tseng (1-0) pitched three hitless innings.
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn gave up one run and three hits over five innings in what is likely his final appearance in St. Louis.
"It's not a good feeling." Lynn said of missing the playoffs.
Lynn will be a free agent at the end of the season.
The Cubs have won 13 of 16 and 21 of 30.
Manager Joe Maddon said he enjoyed watching some of his reserves find the spotlight for a change.
"We just have to keep winning," Maddon said. "I got my pleasure last night."
Happ homered in the first inning.
Kyle Hendricks of the Cardinals struck out nine and allowed four hits in five innings. Dexter Fowler had an RBI groundout in the sixth.
Cardinals: C Yadier Molina remains in a concussion protocol and likely will not play for the remainder of the season. He was removed from Monday's game after taking two foul tips off the mask on successive pitches.
Cubs: Left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana (7-3, 3.50) will face visiting Cincinnati and right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson (5-6, 4.86) on Friday. Quintana pitched a three-hit shutout over Milwaukee on Sept. 24.
Cardinals: Righty John Gant (0-0, 3.65) will face Milwaukee and righty Chase Anderson (11-4, 2.81) on Friday in St. Louis. Gant will be making his second start this season.