The Cardinals missed a chance to gain ground on the Pirates Friday night.
But, then again, the Redbirds missed all sorts of chances in the 3-2 home game loss.
The Birds left eight men on base in the game. And they allowed the Marlins to score two of their three runs for the game in an inning in which they missed three chances to record rally killing outs.
In the first inning, Rafael Furcal led off with a double but was left stranded at second base.
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The Birds scored in the second when Allen Craig led off with a base hit and then was doubled in by David Freese. But Freese was stranded on the bases after arriving at second with no outs.
In the third, Matt Holliday doubled with one out and was left on the base paths.
Freese led off with a hit in the fourth and was stranded.
Centerfielder Jon Jay reached base when he was hit by a pitch leading off the fifth inning. But he was erased when Holliday hit into a double play.
In the sixth, Freese led off with a single and moved to second base when Daniel Descalo got a base hit to make it two on with no outs. But they were unable to score when Tony Cruz hit into a fielder's choice and then pitcher Jake Westbrook hit into a double play.
Jay doubled with one out in the seventh but was left on.
In the ninth Skip Schumaker led off and scored. But the Birds had the tying run on base with one out and the tying run in scoring position with two outs but were unable to keep the rally going.
In all, that totals eight good scoring opportunities in nine innings that ended up amounting to two measly runs.
Westbrook pitched decently with two runs allowed -- and only one earned -- in 6 2/3 innings pitched. He scattered five hits while walking two and hitting two batters.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Freese was 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and raised his average, which was recently down into the .260s up to .291.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Rafael Furcal in the fourth started an incredible double play during which he went to his right, deep into the whole and turned to make a strong off-balance throw to second base. I was amazed he got one out. But second baseman Daniel Descalso was able to get the relay to first base to complete the twin killing.
Lowlight: David Freese made two throwing errors in the sixth inning that caused the Marlin's game-winning rally. So, there you have it, the star of the game is also the goat of the game.