May 18, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) throws the ball during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Jaime Garcia returns, St. Louis Cardinals fall 6-5

Jaime Garcia pitched off the mound in a Major League Baseball game for the St. Louis Cardinals for the first time since May 17, 2013.

While Garcia lasted seven innings for the Cardinals, the bullpen faltered and blew the save in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves. The sheer fact that Garcia lasted seven innings is sheer relief for Cardinals fans, especially with left-handed pitcher Tyler Lyons taking a trip to the DL.

The Mexican native allowed four runs on five hits. He struck out five batters and didn’t walk a single batter. Unfortunately, two hits that he allowed were home runs to Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton. The other two runs Garcia allowed came as the result of a Freeman single in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game.

A Peter Bourjos strikeout turned out to be very big for the Cardinals in the bottom of the second inning. What should have been a 1-2-3 inning for Braves starter Gavin Floyd turned into a huge inning for the Cardinals as the pitch got past catcher Gerald Laird so Bourjos took first base. Garcia singled to left and Matt Carpenter drew a walk to load the bases. This brought second baseman Kolten Wong to the plate. Wong took a 92 mph two-seem fastball to left for a bases-clearing doubke to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.

After Upton’s home run in the fourth, the Cardinals scored again in the fifth when Allen Craig scored on Matt Adams‘ sac fly to center field, giving the Cardinals a 4-2 lead. The lead would be short-lived as the Braves tied it up in a 2-run single in the top of the sixth.

The Cardinals took a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning when Jhonny Peralta doubled and drove in Yadier Molina.

With Trevor Rosenthal pitching to start the ninth inning, what should have been another save this weekend turned into a nightmare. Freeman reached base on a lead-off single while the next two batters struck out and popped out. With two outs, one would have thought the game was just about over.

Not quite. It’s the same case with these Cardinals all year. With the game in reach, they find a way to beat themselves. A double put runners on the corners and Evan Gattis was intentionally walked to load the bases. What happened next was Jordan Schafer walking and driving in Freeman to tie the game at five runs a piece.

Carlos Martinez came in to relieve Rosenthal. On a wild pitch, Ryan Doumit would score the game-winning run for the Atlanta Braves. Martinez would end the inning but the damage was done. The Cardinals entered the bottom of the ninth down by a run. Matt Adams singled in the ninth but with no other Cardinals getting on base, the game was over.

With the second blown save this year by Rosenthal, he gets his second loss of the season. Kevin Siegrist and Pat Neshek combined to pitch the eighth inning for the Cardinals.

Offensively, aside from Wong, Matt Carpenter reached base by way of a walk or single during all five times that he stepped up to the plate. Carpenter joined Molina and Adams with two-hit games. Molina now has a seven-game hitting streak dating back to May 11th. Molina is hitting 12-for-26 at the plate (.462) during the seven-game streak. He has increased his batting average from .300 to .327 during the same time.

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