Cheap Seats

The Cardinals need a photo of their offense on the back of a milk carton

Lately it seems the Cardinals offense is content to show up for the second half of the game and hope that's enough to win a game here and there.

But on Saturday the Birds batsmen turned down the heat another notch and never really showed up at all.

They slept through all nine innings against a Seattle Mariners team good for 66 wins throughout the season, contributing three hits to the cause over the course of the evening. It was a waste of a pretty decent start from rookie hurler Michael Wacha.

The young St. Louis righty shut the Mariners out through four before getting a little bit out of whack in the fifth. He walked the leadoff man in the inning and then the pitcher who was trying to sacrifice bunt. Seattle was able to post two runs on the board before Wacha straightened himself out.

Still, two runs over five innings ought to give the Cardinals offense a reasonable chance to win the game. But they never really threatened. The only Cardinals run came in the eight when Matt Carpenter got a hit to right and then recklessly tried to stretch it into a double.

It seemed like a crazy time to take a chance since the Redbirds were down by three and needed a crooked number rally, not a single run. But Carpenter was safe and it energized the audience -- if not the offense. And Carpenter, who moved to third on a ground ball and scored on a wild pitch, would have been stranded on base if not for the aggressiveness.

The Cardinals had the tying run at the plate in Carlos Beltran after that. But they couldn't score anymore and, when the Mariners got an insurance run in the top of the ninth, that was pretty much that.

The loss dropped the Redbirds back into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates who came back to beat the Cubs at home. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers to pull within 2 1/2 of St. Louis and Pittsburgh.