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It's not how much but when the St. Louis Cardinals hit that's the problem

The St. Louis Cardinals got another strong performance from a starting pitcher Monday night against the Washington Nationals.

But an offense that delivered 13 safeties was unable to get hits when it mattered the most, stranding 13 runners on base in a 2-1 loss.

Lance Lynn threw 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits. He struck out seven and walked four. But he never had a chance to be the winning pitcher because the Redbirds couldn't score until long after he departed. Matt Holliday, who had four hits and a walk in five plate appearances, singled in the only St. Louis run with one out in the ninth inning.

The Cardinals futility was amazing with runners on in every frame of an extra inning game -- and success in driving them home in only one of those 10 opportunities. They had one runner on in the first, two in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth, two in the fifth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh, one in the eighth, two in the ninth and one in the tenth.

In all, St. Louis hitters were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and they hit into two double plays.

It's not that the Cardinals can't hit for average and the problem isn't that they haven't hit for much power. The issue is that they don't adapt to the situation. The Birds would have easily won the game if they could have made a few productive outs, moving up runners and hitting a sacrifice fly instead of piling up eight strikeouts.

The game was lost with two outs in the bottom of the 10th when reliever Carlos Villanueva allowed a solo home run by Yunel Escobar who hasn't made it to double figures in home runs since 2011 when he popped 11.

Lynn, thanks to the Cardinals' weak offense so far in 2015, is only 1-1 despite a 1.56 earned run average through three starts.

Kolten Wong was 3-for-4 to improve his season batting average to .278 while Yadier Molina was 3-for-5 to raise his average to .295.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Holliday who is batting .425 after his 4-for-4 performance.

Cardinals Play of the Game: Jon Jay made a pair of excellent catches in the game. But the standout was a diving catch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth that, at least temporarily, saved the game.

Lowlight: Matt Adams didn't start the game. But he managed to strike out in his lone at-bat and then dropped an easy foul pop up OR Johnny Peralta who was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts (the last on a hit and run play that hung Holliday out to dry) and stranded four runners on base.

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