The more I see of Cardinals rookie Joe Kelly, the more I like him.
Kelly lost a close game again on Monday. But two of the three runs he surrendered in six quality innings of work should have never happened.
Kelly got a ground ball to lead off the Dodgers second and first baseman Lance Berkman booted the ball to allow one on with one out instead of two outs and the bases empty. Then the next hitter blooped a ball to deep short that glanced off Rafael Furcal's glove. If Furcal was playing regular depth instead of moving in closer to the base in hopes of getting a double play, he almost certainly would have made the catch and the inning would have been over.
But, after getting extended, Kelly made one bad pitch -- a hanging curve -- and it was deposited over the left field wall just beyond the reach of Matt Holliday for a three run homer.
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Disappointingly, the Birds weren't able to do much with Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley who was fresh off the disabled list. Billingsey, who hasn't historically pitched very well at Busch Stadium III, held St. Louis to one run on seven hits over six innings.
Jon Jay and Yadier Molina continued their hot hitting, reaching base in two of their four at-bats. And Carlos Beltran, who hasn't hit for much average lately, is at least once again showing some power. He hit his second homer in three days, a two-run shot in the eighth to reach 22 for the year.
Beltran's homer made the score 5-3. But the Cardinals could draw no closer, sagging to six games back of the Reds.
The Cardinals may have lost. But they were fortunate to get through the game with Kelly intact. The rookie starter attempted to field a comebacker in the the first with his bare hand and required a visit from the trainer. Later he beat out a grounder -- after narrowly missing hitting his first career homer -- and ended up in a collision at first base that left him rolling on the ground.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Kelly
Cardinals Play of the Game: Beltran's homer
Lowlight: A brief spurt of bad defense in the second inning cost the Caridnals the game.
For more "From the Cheap Seats," click here.