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Cardinals insist on doing things the hard way.

I guess the Cardinals can't do anything the easy way anymore.

After packing as much drama as humanly possible into September and October 2011, they seem to think that they have to get down to their last game, last out or last strike before they make their move.

They came out smoking Tuesday night with Jon Jay leading off against the Reds with a well-earned double before scoring on a productive out from Carlos Beltran and a sacrifice fly by Matt Holliday. But then the Cardinals packed in the offense for the night and allowed Cincinnati to score three unanswered runs to leave their magic number stuck at one before the Giants took on the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Well, I am here to say fellas that it's okay to go ahead and win by a comfortable margin. It's alright not to leave things in doubt until game 162 -- or 163 for that matter.

We don't mind if you retire the side 1-2-3 in the ninth instead of walking a couple of guys before getting down to business.

The Cardinals could have done themselves a huge favor Tuesday night by closing out the Dodgers with a win at home against Cincinnati. They could have put themselves in a position to go home after their game and get a good night's sleep before playing a team of substitutes on Wednesday and getting their guys some much needed rest.

They could have manipulated their pitching staff to keep another starter fresh for potential emergency duty in the wildcard game with Atlanta.

But it seems like they enjoy painting themselves into a corner these days to see if they can get out.

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