In what has become a disturbing trend lately, the Cardinals on Friday night did just enough to lose to the Diamondbacks.
Matt Holliday dropped a ball that hit him in the glove while trying to making a running catch, and that led to three runs for Arizona in the fourth. Albert Pujols wore the collar for the second time in three nights and the team did little with runners in scoring position, stranding 10 men on base.
Leading 1-0 thanks to a Lance Berkman solo shot in the bottom of the second, the Redbirds scored two runs in the third inning but missed out on a chance to break the game open. Daniel Descalso led off with a walk and Skip Schumaker doubled him to third. David Freese reached on an error to load the bases and Albert Pujols hit a sacrifice fly for one run. Holliday doubled to score Schumaker and send Freese to thirdm so Arizona walked Berkman to load the bases. Colby Rasmus came to the plate and hit a grounder to the first baseman who threw home for the forceout. Backup catcher Gerald Laird made the third out and the threat was over.
Pitcher Kyle Lohse pitched very well for six innings but hit the wall in the seventh. He loaded the bases as his command escaped him and then served up a grand slam that put the Diamondbacks ahead 7-3. The Holliday miscue was called a hit, presumably because a major league outfielder shouldn't be expected to catch a ball that he has to run to, so all seven runs against Lohse were counted as earned.
Despite their setbacks, the Cardinals still had a chance to win the game in the late innings.
Holliday hit a solo homer to start the eighth that cut the St. Louis deficit to 7-5. Lance Berkman followed with a single but Rasmus and Laird quickly made outs. Nick Punto came in as a pinch hitter and singled. Then Mr. Close and Late, Daniel Descalso doubled to make the score 7-6 with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position for Freese.
But the Cardinals third baseman, who got behind on the count before battling back to make things more interesting, struck out to set the stage for the two, three and four hitters to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
Pujols drew a walk with two guys who had already homered in the game coming up behind him. But Holliday hit a foul pop up on the first pitch he saw to make out number one. Then Berkman hit a tailor-made double play ball to D-Backs shortstop Stephen (don't call me JD) Drew. Apparently taking his eye off the ball to see if he could get the out at second, Drew booted the ball and everyone was safe. But Rasmus whiffed like a little leaguer facing Steve Carlton and Jon Jay ended the game with a groundout to second.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Berkman was 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and one driven in.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Holliday's third inning double that seemed to set up the Birds for a breakout inning.
Lowlight: Is there anyone left who thinks the Cardinals are better with Colby Rasmus in centerfield than Jon Jay. Rasmus had an absolutely awful at bat in the ninth and isn't nearly the defensive outfielder Jay is. Jay adds a spark to this club while Rasmus seems to suck all the life out of the team.