ST. LOUIS -- A day after the Arizona Diamondbacks lost Luis Gonzalez, they lost another chance to clinch a playoff spot.
Edgar Renteria singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning as the Cardinals kept Arizona's magic number for clinching a playoff berth at one with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night. The Diamondbacks have lost five in a row.
"Teams go through losing streaks," manager Bob Brenly said. "Unfortunately, this is a bad time to do it."
The NL West-leading Diamondbacks would be assured a postseason slot if Los Angeles lost later at night to Colorado.
Arizona tied it in the top of the ninth against closer Jason Isringhausen (3-2) as pinch-runner Mark Little scored from second on pinch-hitter Greg Colbrunn's infield hit up the middle.
Renteria made a diving stab to keep the ball in the infield, but the shortstop had trouble controlling it as Little beat the throw to the plate with a headfirst slide.
Albert Pujols drew a one-out walk from Mike Fetters (3-3) in the Cardinals ninth and pinch-runner So Taguchi stole second as Ivan Cruz struck out. Renteria, who's batting .363 with runners in scoring position, followed with a liner just inside the third-base line.
"Oh my goodness, he's been unbelievable," starter Andy Benes said. "I don't think you could put anybody at the plate in a clutch situation that we'd feel more comfortable with than Edgar."
Gonzalez, who got the hit that won last year's World Series, separated his left shoulder and tore ligaments when he collided with teammate Tony Womack in Monday night's game. He leads the Diamondbacks with 28 home runs and 103 RBIs.
Minus the left fielder, Brenly has realigned the outfield. Erubiel Durazo, who will move from first base to right, was shaky tracking down Fernando Vina's liner to start the bottom of the first.
"I don't mean to sound callous or harsh, but it's part of the game," Brenly said. "We'll get by. We'll do what we have to do. We think we have enough here to overcome the loss of Luis Gonzalez."
Arizona's lead for the home-field advantage in the NL playoffs was shaved to one game over the NL Central champion Cardinals, who have won 17 of 20. The teams close their three-game series on Wednesday.
Benes allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings for St. Louis, allowing only one baserunner past first. He struck out four and walked two.
Benes lowered his ERA to 2.93, a far cry from mid-April when he was saddled with a 10.80 ERA and contemplated retirement due to an arthritic right knee.
Diamondbacks rookie starter John Patterson was even more effective, allowing only a first-inning infield single by Eli Marrero in six innings. Patterson, making his first start since Aug. 4, struck out eight and walked two and allowed only one runner past first base and wasn't happy about leaving the game.
"My mechanics were starting to break down a little bit and I didn't have quite the command that last inning," Patterson said. "But I like to compete."
J.D. Drew, who's struggled with tendinitis in his right knee that has robbed him of his power, greeted Arizona reliever Matt Mantei with his 16th homer for a 1-0 lead in the seventh. Drew began the game in an 0-for-20 slump.
The Cardinals made it 2-0 later in the inning on a one-hit single by Ivan Cruz and Miguel Cairo's two-out RBI single.
Junior Spivey's two-out RBI single off Rick White, the first earned run allowed by the reliever in 17 innings with the Cardinals, cut the gap to a run in the eighth.
Benes is two strikeouts shy of 2,000 for his career. ... The Diamondbacks' Chris Donnels, who sustained a mild concussion when he landed hard making a throw to first on a bunt on Monday, got an infield hit as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. ... The Cardinals have an NL-leading 17 victories in September. ... La Russa won his 600th game in seven seasons with the Cardinals. ... The Diamondbacks had given up double-digit runs each of the last three games. ... Colbrunn is 6-for-20 as a pinch hitter with three RBIs.