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View from the left field porch

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 14, 2011 - The best fans in baseball did their part at Busch Stadium Thursday night: They cheered themselves hoarse, fervently waved their rally towels and turned their baseball caps inside-out to coax a do-or-die rally in the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals trailing the Brewers 4-2.

But the rally - a two-out single by a pinch-hitting Lance Berkman - ended as quickly as it began, and the Cardinals fell to the Brewers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

Most of the 45,000 in attendance stayed until the last out. They left disappointed but confident that the Cards - now tied 2-2 with the Brewers in the best-of-seven series - will do what they do: Come back and win tomorrow.

Cardinal Nation had arrived for the game ready to party - still elated over the Redbirds' 4-3 victory Wednesday night. The stadium was awash in bright reds and even brighter spirits, with rally squirrels everywhere but on the field. The now- iconic good luck charm that dashed across the field during the Division Series with the Phillies last week has found extended fame on souvenir T-shirts and baseball caps - and even on the stadium scoreboard: GO NUTS!

We watched the goings-on from the Left Field Porch 3, an odd little section tucked just below Big Mac Land. Fans on "the porch" quickly bonded and were game buddies by the ninth, known only by the names of the Cardinals, past and present, that they wore on their backs: Pujols, Musial, Holliday, Molina, Eckstein, Ankiel ...

The fans on the porch stood more than they sat and celebrated with hearty high-fives after solo home runs by the Cardinals' Matt Holliday and Allen Craig that had the Redbirds up 2-0 by the third inning. Though the Brewers' Randy Wolf out-pitched the Cards' Kyle Lohse, the game felt winnable until the very last out.

Though there was no way he could hear them, the porch fans booed Brewers outfielder and limelight-seeker Nyjer Morgan with gusto when he led off in the first -- and dished out follow-up boos during every at-bat. They booed the ump who called a sliding Jerry Hairston of the Brewers safe during a close play at home in the fourth. But mostly they cheered -- loudly and often -- and if fans could will a victory, those on Left Field Porch 3 did their part Thursday night.

Game 5 starts at 7:05 tonight at Busch, with Jaime Garcia on the mound for the Cards and Zack Greinke for the Brewers.

There will be new rally towels and a fresh round of fans on the porch known only by the names on their backs: Pujols, Musial, Holliday, Molina ...

Unleash the rally squirrel.

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