The Cardinals have had the most explosive offense in the National League so far this season. But on Monday the fuse only fizzled -- and starting pitcher Kyle Lohse paid the price.
The Birds stranded 12 men in scoring position and were 0-for-9 at the plate with runners on base. They managed to win 2-1 on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning well after Lohse, who hurled seven shut out innings, had already taken his shower. Lohse scattered four hits and a walk while whiffing six Reds.
It looked like the Cardinals would knock around Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto when Carlos Beltran hit a no doubt homer against him in the bottom of the first to make the score 1-0 and then Matt Holliday hit a ringing double to left center. But Lance Berkman struck out for the second out of the inning and David Freese swung and missed for the third.
In the second inning the Birds picked up where they left off when Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch and Jon Jay singled to make it first and second with no one out. The ball that hit Molina raised a few eyebrows because he and Cueto were principals in the fracas between the Cardinals and Reds two seasons ago. Although the pitch was a breaking ball, it seemed like a bit of a coincidence that Yadi was the one Cardinal to be plunked.
The Redbirds got a measure of revenge when Daniel Descalso hit a ball up the middle for a fielder's choice at second base -- and Jay dumped Cincinnati's shortstop hard to break up the potential double play. Lohse sacrificed Descalso to second. But Furcal couldn't make Cincinnati pay when he hit a pop-up to end the threat.
Cincinnati tied the game in the top of the eighth when a grounder to second base went through Decalso's legs. The next batter bunted back to pitcher Mitchell Boggs -- who missed the ball when he tried to pick it up. Instead of a sacrifice, the Reds had runners at first and second and no one out and Brandon Phillips at the plate.
Phillips lined a ball to Descalso that turned into a double play. But the Cardinals were unable to get the lead runner and it cost them when Zack Cozart got a two-out hit and tied the game.
The Cardinals had a chance to respond in the bottom of the ninth when Descalso drew a lead-off walk. In his first tight game as skipper, Mike Matheny made the choice of sending up rookie Erik Komatsu to bunt -- and he couldn't get the job done. It seemed like a lot of pressure for a kid that played in Class AA last year. Maybe it might have been a good idea to protect your bench by using a veteran pitcher like Adam Wainwright to bunt...
Rafael Furcal singled to right to give the Cardinals new life with runners at first and third and one out. Cincinnati walked Beltran intentionally to load the bases. But Matt Holliday couldn't make the Reds pay when he fouled out to first base. And then Berkman popped to first with two outs.
The Birds finally broke through in the bottom of the tenth when Descalso drew a walk against lefty pitcher Sam LeCure to load the bases and then Matheny sent up lefty pinch hitter Matt Carpenter -- despite the fact that righties Tony Cruz and Shane Robinson were still available. Carpenter made Matheny smart when he hit a shallow -- but just deep enough fly to right field that allowed Tyler Greene to tag up and score.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Beltran was 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and a homer.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Carpenter's game-winning sacrifice fly.
Lowlight: The defense's eighth inning meltdown that cost Lohse, whose ERA is 0.89 with 0.59 baserunners allowed per inning, his third victory of the season.