Cardinals swept out of San Diego

The St. Louis Cardinals' losing continues as their wild card spot hangs in the balance.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Maybe the Cardinals were looking ahead to the four-game weekend series at Los Angeles. Maybe they weren't. But whatever the case, they played the last three days in San Diego as if they had not given the proper attention to the Padres.

 

A 3-2 loss on Wednesday completed a three-game sweep by San Diego and left the Cardinals winless in their last seven games in California this season after winning their first one in San Francisco in May. The loss also was their 20th in their last 29 road games although they somehow are still at the top of the list for the second wild-card berth in the National League.

 

Right-hander Kyle Lohse's winning streak was snapped at eight games as he lost his third in 17 decisions despite walking no one, striking out eight and permitting just two earned runs in six innings.

 

"He was sharp right from the beginning," said manager Mike Matheny. "Those are the starts we have to capitalize on."

 

The Cardinals had their chance in the ninth inning but then engaged in some debatable strategy. First baseman Allen Craig doubled and then was pinch run for even though he was the cleanup hitter and wouldn't be available to hit in the middle of the lineup in extra innings.

 

Then catcher Yadier Molina, a .333 hitter with men in scoring position, sacrificed rather than swinging the bat. Molina got the runner to third, but third baseman David Freese bounced out on the first pitch and pinch hitter Skip Schumaker tapped out.

 

Matheny said Molina had bunted on his own against slider specialist Luke Gregerson, the Padres' right-hander. And Matheny was on board with it.

"He's got that freedom," said Matheny. "We were in a great spot right there. Smart baseball."

 

Until Freese rolled over on the slider instead of waiting it out and trying to hit the ball the other way.

 

Earlier, Molina, after a groundball to shortstop, ran into an out at third in the second inning after Freese had struck out, failing to advance Molina from second.

 

And right fielder Matt Carpenter bobbled Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin's double, allowing a run to score in the fifth inning. "Every run in a one-run game is crucial," said Matheny. "That one did hurt.

 

"He didn't make the play down the line that I know he wanted to make. And if he still hits the cutoff man, we may have a play at the plate."

 

On the other hand, the impressive rookie hit a two-run homer and had another hit. Carpenter had two hits. The rest of the club had two.

 

The Cardinals are 32-39 on the road this year and seem to be running in place. To the question of whether the Cardinals are playing with urgency, Matheny said, "They're trying to force some life and energy, but when we lose games like that and they stack up on each other, it's hard to keep it.

 

"But we're still going about it the right way."

 

NOTES, QUOTES

RHP Kyle Lohse pitched well Wednesday, giving up just two earned runs and fanning eight while walking no one in six innings, but his winning streak was snapped at eight in a 3-2 loss at San Diego. "That was a tough one," said Lohse. "I felt really good."

RHP Lance Lynn, an All-Star who has been in the bullpen since a two-inning start on Aug. 24, will emerge to make Thursday night's start at Los Angeles. Lynn (14-7) said he had sharpened his mechanics recently in bullpen appearances.

RHP Trevor Rosenthal, a starter in the minors, relieved for the second day in succession and showed no ill effects. He fanned one in a perfect seventh inning after striking out three in one inning the night before.

RF Carlos Beltran sat out Wednesday's start, replaced by rookie INF/OF Matt Carpenter. Beltran, an All-Star, is hitting .199 since July 1. He walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth.

LHP Jaime Garcia will start as scheduled Saturday in Los Angeles despite his 6.19 road ERA.

By the Numbers:

1 - Hits with men in scoring position the last two games for the Cardinals. They were 1 for 19 overall.

Quote to Note:

"We can't depend on the other teams to keep losing. We've got to take care of our business. We're really got to pick it up. That's the bottom line."

- RHP Kyle Lohse on the fast-sliding Cardinals.

MEDICAL WATCH

RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) will miss a start or two but apparently will be able to pitch again this season.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) is scheduled to undergo additional surgery Sept. 14 and is out for the season. His career might be over as well.

RHP Chris Carpenter (right shoulder surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects, weakness in one's shoulder. A July 2 bullpen session was canceled. He underwent what was believed to be season-ending surgery July 19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. He threw a normal bullpen session Sept. 7 and faced hitters in a simulated game Sept. 10 in San Diego.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

Link to boxscore: San Diego 3, St. Louis 2

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