While the Cardinals failed to win several games in the last week that they should have won, on Thursday night they managed to come away with a victory in one the HAD to win.
The Redbirds beat the Dodgers 2-1 in Los Angeles to kick off a four-game set against their closest rival for the second -- and last -- National League wildcard spot. That puts St. Louis two games ahead of the Dodgers, three games ahead of the Pirates, 3 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers and four games ahead of the Phillies with three weeks of baseball left to play.
Lance Lynn, back in the rotation because of the injury of Jake Westbrook, held Los Angeles to one run on five hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
The Cardinals offense couldn't do much better. The Birds managed 10 hits but could only score 10 runs in a contest started by recent acquisition Josh Beckett whom Los Angeles picked up in a trade with the Red Sox. The deciding blow came in the seventh inning when Allen Craig hit a groundball with eyes through the right side of the Dodgers infield to score Shane Robinson.
Yadier Molina was 3-for-4 on the night. But he was involved in a bizarre situation in the fourth inning in which the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out and couldn't score. On second with Skip Schumaker at the plate, Molina took off to steal third in a play that was apparently a straight steal and not a hit and run. Molina apparently didn't realize Schumaker hit the ball through the left side of the infield -- right behind him -- and he slid into third base.
Because he tried to steal, Molina didn't score when he probably could have had he not tried to steal and instead gone on contact.
With the bases loaded and the score still tied at one, Daniel Descalso struck out to bring up Lynn with two outs. And when the pitcher also whiffed, the Birds were left empty handed.
Why Molina wasn't looking at third base coach Jose Oquendo as he neared third is beyond me. Perhaps he was visiting Albert Pujols while in Los Angeles and Pujols reminded him, no matter what, to do what Oquendo says.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Lynn
Cardinals Play of the Game: Craig's game winning hit.
Lowlight: The Cardinals have too much offense to be scoring two runs a night. What gives?