Every time it looks like the Cardinals might turn the corner, they shoot themselves in the foot and slide back down into mediocrity.
Unfortunately, that was the case again Saturday as shoddy defense sprung the initial leak and absent offense sank the ship.
The Cardinals pounded Houston the night before, scoring eight unanswered runs. On Saturday, the Birds managed to cross the plate only once and lost lifelessly, 4-1.
Jeff Suppan pitched, and I can honestly say that I've never seen a hurler pitch so timidly. But he didn't deserve anywhere near all of the blame for a three-run Astros outburst in the first frame. Houston had two on and two out when Suppan coaxed an easy doubleplay ball. But shortstop Tyler Greene took a painfully long time trying to feed the ball to the second baseman and was only able to get one out. Given new life, Houston took advantage and ended the first ending up by three runs instead of in a scoreless tie.
Albert Pujols tripled in the fourth and Matt Holliday drove him home with a ground out. But that was all the firepower the Cardinals could muster. They managed only five hits on the night.
On the bright side, rookie Jon Jay continues to impress. He had a pair of hits to extend his major league hit streak to 10 games. He seems to be one of a precious few Redbirds to be playing with any life at all lately.
If there was a silver lining to the night, it's that the Reds had their hearts broken for the second night in a row. Their starter pitched a perfect game into the ninth inning... but Cincinnati still lost in extra innings. The Birds remain two games out as we near the All-Star break.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Pujols was 2-for-4 with a triple.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Pujols' triple.
Lowlight: Felipe Lopez and Skip Schumaker combined to go 0-for-7 on the night. Not much table setting from the leadoff and second spots in the batting order.