For the second straight day the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen could not hold a lead, only this time the Chicago Cubs won the game in the tenth inning by a score of 3-2 and received some outside help along the way.
The Cubs were assisted by what looked like a blown call on a steal of second base by Tony Campana, who ended up scoring the winning run on a Alfonso Soriano base hit to second baseman Tyler Greene, which probably should have been called an error and played cleanly. This came after the Cubs first run was also a disputed call at the plate.
The loss ensured the first series defeat for the Cardinals on the season. They dropped to 11-7 and have now lost four of their last six games and their lead in the NL Central is down to two games over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The loss also overshadowed a much better performance from Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. In what was easily his best start of the season, Wainwright held the Cubs to one run on six hits and a walk. He struck out seven batters in his 93-pitch effort. He was not in line for the win, as the Cards were down 1-0 after he departed.
During this recent downturn, the Cardinals offense as a whole has begun to sputter. They’ve scored only 16 runs in the last six games after scoring 70 in their first 12. Last night the issue was once again the inability to come through with runners in scoring position. They were 0-for-5 in that category and left 9 runners on base total.
Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija held the Cardinals in check through 6.2 innings. He struck out nine batters without allowing a run. He gave up four hits and two walks. The Cardinals struck in the eighth off relievers Rafael Dolis and Carlos Marmol. Dolis delivered a one-out walk to Rafael Furcal and then got Skip Schumaker to line out for the second out of the inning. Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to let Marmol finish off the eighth against Matt Holliday. Holliday deposited Marmol’s sixth pitch of the at-bat over the left center field wall to give the Cards the lead, 2-1.
After a 1-2-3 eighth inning, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny left Marc Rzepczynski in to face left-handed hitting first baseman Bryan LaHair. LaHair cranked the first pitch he saw from Rzepczynski into the left field seats to tie the game at 2. He got the next two batters out, but then a Furcal error and a base hit put the winning run in scoring position for Monday night’s hero, Joe Mather. Matheny brought in Fernando Salas, who blew away Mather to end the threat.
The Redbirds could not score in the tenth as James Russell struck out two batters. Salas stayed in the game to pitch the bottom of the tenth and it got controversial quickly. Campana hit a one-out single. He took off for second base and the ball clearly beat him to the bag in replays, but he was ruled safe by second base umpire Bill Welke. Matheny came out to argue the call and after a few minutes of saying his piece, he was ejected. Salas struck out Starlin Castro and after an intentional walk to LaHair, Soriano hit a liner toward Greene at second base. It looked liked Greene got his feet stuck in the mud (but there wasn’t any mud) and couldn’t stay in front of the ball allowing it to scoot into the outfield allowing Campana to easily score the winning run.
- The ejection was Matheny’s first in his career
- Schumaker received his first start at second base this season as Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso have done nothing to hold down the job.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals are experiencing what will probably not be their only offensive struggles of the season. It happens. The game of baseball sees many peaks and valleys and in the end there always seems to be a balance. The best teams have more ups than downs and this Cardinals team will be among the better teams in the game.
The lineup when complete is going to be very potent. What happened in the first twelve games of the season was a pretty incredible beginning with hot starts from virtually every starter and players on the bench. At one point there were many players hitting over .350 in the starting lineup and they were hammering the opponent. Now only Jon Jay, Furcal and David Freese are among the regulars hitting above .300.
The Redbirds are without Lance Berkman and Jay, two important pieces of the lineup. They have received no production out of the second base combination of Greene and Descalso, to the point that Schumaker received the start there last night. Holliday who has four homers is still only hitting .215 on the season with a .262 OBP.
The team will rebound soon enough and they’ll put this downturn behind them. So long as the upswings are longer in duration and more plentiful than the downswings, the Cardinals will be competing for a playoff spot at the end of the season.
Tags: Adam Wainwright Alfonso Soriano Bryan LaHair Cardinals Carlos Beltran Carlos Marmol Chicago Cubs Chris Volstad Daniel Descalso David Freese Fernando Salas James Russell Jeff Samardzija Joe Mather Jon Jay Lance Berkman Lance Lynn Matt Holliday Mike Matheny Milwaukee Brewers Rafael Dolis Rafael Furcal Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals Starlin Castro Tyler Greene Yadier Molina