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The St. Louis Cardinals suddenly look tired

It's ironic that the Cardinals would lose their first road series since April to the Miami Marlins, one of the worst teams in baseball.

But oddities like that are going to happen over the course of a long season.

I'm much less worried about one game here or there -- if the Cardinals would have won either the Friday game or Sunday -- we wouldn't be talking about this. What worries me about the Redbirds is that the club suddenly seems tired and as if the strains of the season have started to wear on both ends of the roster: the aging veteran sluggers the team counts on for offense and the rookie pitchers who have been filling in so well for injured veteran starters.

Left fielder Matt Holliday got an ill-timed day off Sunday. He has absolutely owned Miami starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco in the past. But he was apparently worn down to the point that manager Mike Matheny threw the book out the window and benched him until a ninth inning pinch hitting appearance in favor of Allen Craig in the outfield.

Catcher Yadier Molina also got a day off Sunday.

On the mound, rookie starting pitcher Tyler Lyons lost his third start in a row. He was hammered for six earned runs on eight hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. After surrendering two runs on six hits in the 14 innings of his first two starts, he has given up 14 runs on 22 hits and six walks over 17 innings pitched in his most recent three games.

After two starts, Lyons' ERA was 1.29. Now it is 4.65.

The Cardinals could count on strong starts every game until recently. Now Jake Westbrook is back in the rotation providing his typical mediocrity and Lyons is suddenly suspect.

I wonder if the Cardinals will give 2012 rookie pitching sensation Joe Kelly a chance to see what he can do in the starting rotation after his excellent emergency start in his lone appearance in the rotation this year.

Either way, hopefully the Birds will get a boost from home cooking. They've been on the road an awful lot the first third of the season.