The St. Louis Cardinals continue to do things the hard way -- although they were fortunate Tuesday night to come out of their match-up with the lowly Chicago Cubs with an extra-innings victory.
The Cardinals sputtered offensively, lowlighted by an out on the bases when shortstop Jhonny Peralta fell down between second and third on a hit that should have driven him home. They sputtered on the mound when closer Trevor Rosenthal blew a one-run lead in the ninth. And they sputtered defensively when Joey Butler, who apparently doesn't feel comfortable in right field, took a lousy route on a fly ball that dropped in front of him with two outs in the ninth to allow the tying run to score.
Of course, that last issue could equally be blamed on manager Mike Matheny who seems lately to delight in putting players in positions they can't play during double switches.
It makes me wonder why Butler is even on this roster when he has made a total of four plate appearances and he can only play one position -- left field -- which is currently manned by perennial all-star Matt Holliday. At least Randal Grichuk or Shane Robinson could serve as versatile and competent defensive replacements.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was robbed of a victory after six strong innings. He seemed to be getting stronger as he went along but Matheny pulled him for a pinch hitter as the Redbirds rallied in the sixth.
It was a move that immediately paid off in that the Cardinals scored the tying and go ahead runs. But the bullpen couldn't get the job done and the fine effort was lost.
While the Birds were fortunate to escape with a victory Tuesday, they really need to clean up their game or these problems are going to continue to haunt them. While the Cubs are technically a major league team, they're in a major rebuilding project and have been rudely pushed around by every team they've played this year which wasn't wearing St. Louis uniforms. It shouldn't be this hard to sneak past them.