They say that baseball games usually are won by the team that makes less mistakes. And that couldn't be more true of the St. Louis Cardinals series against the Washington Nationals.
The Cardinals owned seven-ninths of their Sunday game. But a bad seventh inning by usually reliable set-up man Carlos Martinez allowed Washington to overcome a two-run deficit and a poor inning of work in the ninth was all it took to flush an otherwise strong performance down the toilet.
Starting pitcher Shelby Miller threw 5 1/3 shutout innings. He would have gone farther if he could have stayed away from walks and two-out trouble that drove up his pitch count. Still, he left with a 2-0 and the Redbirds seemed to have the Nationals hitters well in control.
When Martinez came in, he allowed four hits and two runs in one frame of work to tie the game. Seth Maness came in for the start of the Washington ninth and allowed two hits and a walk while retiring one batter. The Cardinals moved Allen Craig into the infield for the latest of manager Mike Matheny's defensive shifts and used only two outfielders.
Jon Jay was well positioned in left center and recorded a fly out. But he had no chance to nail the deciding run as it crossed the plate. Sort of makes me wonder why the Cardinals would go through so much effort to tweak the defense and then leave a guy with a weak arm in position to make a do or die throw. But, honestly, it probably wouldn't have made a difference who caught the ball because the runner was going to be safe.
The loss leaves the Redbirds at 4-3 on their current road trip as they head to New York to play the Mets.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Matt Adams was the only St. Louis player with more than one hit. He collected two, including an opposite field gapper.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Shelby Miller's two-out double that plated the second run scored by the Redbirds.
Lowlight: Matt Carpenter's defense has been shaky lately. He made an error in the fourth and made a bad play in the ninth to let what eventually became the winning run reach base.