``It was just a long day,'' Gant said wearily, after driving in the Cardinals' first run in extra innings this season. ``We felt if we were going to stay here all night, we might as well win and go home happy.''
The Cardinals took three of four in Cincinnati and have won five of seven from the Reds this season. The defending NL Central champions have won seven of their last nine games overall to close within a game of first place.
The game began at 2:17 p.m. EDT and finished at 8:37 p.m. with rain falling and perhaps 200 fans left in the stands. There was a rain delay of 1 hour, 27 minutes in the second inning and another of 1:26 in the top of the 11th.
Danny Sheaffer started the 12th with a single off Hector Carrasco (1-2), advanced on Delino DeShields' sacrifice and came around on Gant's single to right.
John Frascatore (3-2) pitched out of jams in the 10th and 11th to get the win, and Dennis Eckersley got the final three outs for his 16th save in 18 chances.
The Reds had chances to win in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings. Willie McGee ran down Deion Sanders' line drive to rightfield with two runners on base in the bottom of the 10th inning to preserve the tie.
Before the game, Sanders asked out of the Reds' lineup so he could have time to sit and reflect about his struggles at the plate, caused in part by his off-field problems.
Sanders and his wife, Carolyn, filed for divorce in Texas last March. Sanders has asked the court for joint custody of their two children.
``My problems outside the game are affecting my game,'' Sanders said, after meeting with manager Ray Knight before yesterday's game.
Knight had agreed to give Sanders the day off, but as the game dragged on his services became necessary.
In other games:
DODGERS 10, PADRES 4
At Los Angeles, Pedro Astacio (4-7) won for the first time in 11 starts and Eric Karros drove in four runs to lead the Dodgers over San Diego.
Los Angeles stopped a 10-game losing streak against the Padres and San Diego's eight-game winning streak at Dodger Stadium.
MARLINS 5, EXPOS 3
At Miami, Moises Alou and Bobby Bonilla each drove in two runs and the Florida Marlins beat the Montreal Expos for a split of their four-game series.
METS 10, PIRATES 8
At Pittsburgh, John Olerud hit two homers and Butch Huskey, Matt Franco and Todd Hundley also homered during a nine-run comeback over the last three innings that carried New York past the Pirates.
ASTROS 10, CUBS 8
At Chicago, Derek Bell and Brad Ausmus drove in three runs each to back Tommy Greene's first start in 1 1/2 seasons, leading Houston over the Cubs.
Bell hit a solo homer and a two-run single and Ausmus hit a three-run double.
Greene, a former Phillie who missed all of last season because of back and shoulder injuries, started for the first time since Sept. 16, 1995, and was given a 7-0 lead before he tired.
Greene, who hit an RBI double, struck out seven in 4 1/3 innings, and allowed four runs, six hits and two walks.
Terry Mulholland (5-9), another former Phillie, lost his fifth consecutive start.
GIANTS 7, ROCKIES 4
At Denver, Shawn Estes (11-2) took a shutout into the seventh inning and won his seventh straight decision, as San Francisco defeated Colorado.
Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Damon Berryhill hit solo homers for the Giants, and Darryl Hamilton and Bill Mueller each had three hits. Bonds's homer was his 11th in 22 games, and the Giants have 20 in their last 10 games.