When Bell climbed atop a wet mound in the ninth inning, the Padres clinging to a lead of one run, it marked the first time Bell had pitched in St. Louis since last month in the All-Star Game, when he was the losing pitcher for the National League.
"The last time it was fun," Bell said of the All-Star Game, even though he took the loss. "Today, it meant something."
Bell allowed three runs in the ninth inning, including the game-winner, a two-run walk-off home run to Colby Rasmus as the Cardinals rallied for a 7-5 victory on an afternoon that included two rain delays totaling two hours and 19 minutes.
"It doesn't get much better than that. Especially with the long day, the rain delays and everything," Rasmus said. "I just tried to get up there and relax and get a good pitch to hit. It felt pretty good when I hit it."
When it rains it pours? The Padres (49-70) can certainly attest to that, and not just for the way the game ended. A six-game trip that started so well (two wins in Milwaukee) ended with four consecutive losses, including the last three to the Cardinals (67-52), stretching San Diego's winless mark in St. Louis to nine games.
Want further proof? Bell himself, before he allowed the game-tying RBI single to Yadier Molina earlier in the inning, took a ball off his right ankle on a line drive by Mark DeRosa. The upshot was the ball went right at Adrian Gonzalez for an out.
The downside, of course, was the Cardinals were just getting warmed up, especially when Rasmus turned on a 0-1 curveball, sending it over the wall in right field as merely a fraction of the crowd of 40,812 that remained stood and cheered.
"I was trying to throw a pitch he could hit, I wasn't trying to do that," said Bell, wearing a heavy wrap on a right ankle that swelled considerably after the game. "I let the team down. I'm really ticked off. This team needs me to go out and not do what I did tonight."
Bell, who blew only his second save of the season and his first since May 30, didn't find solace in such an oddity. They all hurt the same, and this one hurt even more -- literally -- after he was hit in the ankle and after the Padres' bullpen carried a 5-4 lead through two lengthy rain delays of 52 minutes and one hour and 27 minutes.
The Padres' bullpen of Edward Mujica, Luis Perdomo, Greg Burke, Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams combined for 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run to a team that flexed their collective offensive muscles in the first two games of this series, scoring a combined 16 runs.
"Our bullpen, the guys before Heath, did their job. The Cardinals got the best of Heath at the end," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The past four or five games, those guys have been taxed a little bit."
Long gone, of course, by the time the rains fell was San Diego starting pitcher Clayton Richard, who despite being staked to a 3-1 lead, had extreme command issues. Richard walked a career-high six batters, including three during a vexing fourth inning, one that led directly to a run when he walked Julio Lugo with the bases loaded.
"It was a day where I didn't have good stuff and command," Richard said. "Those are the days you have to battle through. I got myself in too many holes. The last thing you want to do is put guys on base."
The Cardinals tied the game with two runs in that inning and Richard left with the bases loaded and two outs. Mujica got the last out, though it cost him, as Albert Pujols lined a ball up that middle that glanced off Mujica's right leg. He recovered fast, limped to the ball and threw Pujols out at first base.
But Mujica, in obvious pain, fell to the grass near the third-base line. He was able to get up and walk off the field with the help of the Padres training staff, who later diagnosed his injury as a contusion behind the right knee.
It was just last season when Pujols sent two Padres to the disabled list in the same inning when he lined a ball up the middle that hit off pitcher Chris Young's face and then later, when his slide at home and subsequent collision with catcher Josh Bard, gave the Padres catcher a high ankle sprain.
On Wednesday, Pujols lined a ball off the left ankle of Cincinnati pitcher Homer Bailey. Bailey, much like Mujica, had to leave the game.
The Padres got four hits from Adrian Gonzalez, including his 32nd home run of the season.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.