ST. LOUIS — Missed opportunities doomed the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
Los Angeles extended its road winning streak to a franchise-record 15 games with a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals before 42,464 at Busch Stadium. It was the ninth loss in 12 games for St. Louis, which fell to 13-13 in one-run decisions.
The Cardinals were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and had a runner thrown out at the plate. But it was a successful sacrifice bunt by Carlos Beltran that had manager Mike Matheny in a sour postgame mood.
Los Angeles led 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh when pinch-hitter Adron Chambers led off with a walk against Zack Greinke and went to second on Matt Carpenter's single to right, also against Greinke.
Beltran, who has a team-leading 19 home runs along with 59 RBIs, then laid down his first sacrifice of the season --and just his second since the 2008 season.
Ronald Belisario relieved Greinke and retired Allen Craig on a grounder to first as Chambers scored to make it 3-2. Matt Holliday then grounded out to short on the first pitch from Belisario, and the golden opportunity was gone with only a minimum of damage.
The Cardinals had another chance in the eighth when David Freese was hit by a pitch from Belisario. Paco Rodriguez relieved and Jon Jay, who has seven sacrifices, popped out to first on a bunt attempt. Tony Cruz then rapped into a 6-4-3 double play.
Asked about both bunt plays, Matheny revealed little except disdain for the line of questioning.
"Sometimes we put them on, sometimes we do it on our own," Matheny said.
Asked whether he wanted to clarify which bunt was called and which was attempted by a player's decision, Matheny refused.
"We make plays to try and capitalize when we can," he said, acknowledging the frustration of the game. "A lot of things could have happened differently for us. A lot of little things could have happened right and could have changed the game. They didn't. Now we move on."
Jay blamed himself for lack of execution on his attempt, which seemed to have been called from the dugout.
"I have to get it done," he said. "That's a play I should have made."
Beltran dressed and departed the stadium without talking to reporters.
The Cardinals also lost a runner at the plate in the fifth.
Craig singled with one out and after Holliday fouled out to first, Freese shot a double into the right-center gap.
Yasiel Puig's relay to shortstop Nick Punto was perfect, and Punto's throw home was even better as Craig was tagged out by A.J. Ellis.
"I saw the ball come out of (Puig's) hand and looked where Allen was," Matheny said. "I thought he had a real good shot of being safe there. It was a great relay, a great tag. It definitely took some momentum out."
The Cardinals' lack of execution cost Adam Wainwright (13-7), who pitched well enough to win. Wainwright allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings, with two walks and five strikeouts.
"It was a tough loss," Wainwright said. "Two good teams going at it. They're playing great ball, obviously. They've won 15 times in a row on the road. I knew that going in. I wanted to end that streak, but they were opportunistic tonight."
Wainwright bemoaned the seventh inning when Punto's two-out double was followed by Greinke's bloop single over second that made it 3-1.
"Greinke's pitch, I can't remember the last time a pitcher hit that for a hit --much less an RBI hit," Wainwright said of a curveball on the outside corner. "(But) I think the pitch of that inning was the backup cutter I threw to Punto, and he hits a double right there."
Greinke's hit helped him win his 100th career game.
"He's a very good athlete," Wainwright said. "He swings the bat well and moves around well, runs well. That's why you throw him a first-pitch curveball there. I knew he was swinging; we knew he was swinging. I'll take my chances on that, usually."