Shoddy defense and some bad hitting in the clutch spoiled the major league debut of Cardinals prospect Lance Lynn.
The young hurler started the sixth inning with only one hit allowed -- a two run homer Aubrey Huff hit to knock in Miguel Tejada who was knicked by a pitch. He was successfully nursing a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the sixth Lynn coaxed Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez to hit a high, lazy fly ball to left center that seemed to hang in the air forever. Cardinals centerfielder Colby Rasmus Casually jogged after the ball and even though it still seemed within his reach as he neared the ball's landing spot, Rasmus made no effort to try to catch it. Instead he pulled up and let the ball bounce on the warning track and bound over the fence for a ground rule double.
Instead of no one on and one out, the pitcher was in scoring position with no outs in a one-run game. Andres Torres singled to right field to tie the game. Then Tejada hit a ball that could have been a double play that couldn't be handled. Torres went from first to third and then Tejada moved to second on an ill advised throw.
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Trever Miller came in to relieve. But, as is the case in most of his appearances these days, he allowed the first batter he faced to reach, knocking in both runners in scoring position and leaving Lynn with a loss and an 8.40 ERA -- neither of which he deserved.
Down 5-3, Tyler Greene walked to start the bottom of the sixth and moved to second with a stolen base. Skip Schumaker hit a ball to centerfield and third base coach Jose Oquendo stopped Greene who would have easily scored as the throw was well up the third base line. Theriot came up to the plate with a chance to cut into the lead or tie the game with an extra base hit. Instead, he hit a three bouncer to the shortstop for an easy double play.
After that it got ugly when the Cardinals sent new call up Maikel Cleto to the hill and he showed that, while a 100 MPH fastball is nice, you can't get anybody out if you can't throw strikes.
Cleto walked the first two batters he faced and then gave up a double to Tejada. After getting a ground out to short, Cleto then served up homers to Freddy Sanchez and Huff. He did finish strong, striking out the last two hitters in the inning.
The Cardinals scored some late cosmetic runs to make the game appear to be closer than it really was when Rasmus hit a grand slam. But the Birds were never really in the game after their sixth inning meltdown.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Allen Craig was 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of walks, two runs scored and an RBI. He's taking great at bats these days.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Rasmus' grand slam.
Lowlight: Rasmus' maddeningly lousy defense. If he would have caught a ball he got a bad first step on in the ninth inning Wednesday the Birds would have split the Giants series instead losing it. And if he would have made the play in the sixth Thursday, the Cardinals may have held on and taken three out of four.