The St. Louis Cardinals got back on the winning track Monday with an extra inning victory at home over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But, as is their custom this year, the team had to do things the hard way, misfiring on numerous scoring opportunities and wasting a gem of a Carlos Martinez start before finally putting the game away in the 10th inning.
Martinez threw seven shut out innings with five hits and two walks allowed while striking out eight. He left with a 2-0 lead and the game in the seemingly capable hands of lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist.
But Seigrist allowed a double and a home run to tie the game in the eighth. He then was squeezed by the home plate umpire to put a pair of men on base without ever recording an out.
Fortunately, Seth Maness was able to stop the damage and give the Redbirds a second chance to win the game.
Jhonny Peralta hit a home run in the bottom of the 10th to provide the margin of victory in a 3-2 win. But the Cardinals stranded 11 runners on base and they were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
In short, a 2-0 lead handed to Seigrist should have been a 4 or 5-run lead. The inability to add on to the lead was just as much at fault for the need to go to extra innings as Siegrist who, otherwise, has had an excellent comeback season so far.
It’s especially frustrating that the Birds didn’t hit with runners on because they pounded out 15 hits overall, including 10 in the first six innings against Arizona starter Chase Anderson. Kolten Wong had three hits and Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos and Peralta each had two in the game.
But Holliday and Matt Adams each left five men on base. Carpenter, Peralta and Yadier Molina each stranded three.
It was a very encouraging outing for Martinez.
After a bad stretch that saw him give up 23 hits and 16 earned runs in 14 innings, Martinez has allowed no runs on nine hits over 13 1/3 innings in his last two starts.
At times Monday he appeared to get into the mode where he was intentionally trying to strike out every opposing hitter after a runner got on base. But, for the most part, he kept his emotions in check and didn’t compound problems. It was especially reassuring to see Martinez right the ship when he could have come unraveled after a trio of rough outings.
It’s just a shame Martinez (4-2, 3.54 earned run average) didn’t get the reward for his good work.
But it’s more of a shame the team had to use three relievers -- including two frames from closer Trevor Rosenthal -- and keep tired players who haven’t had a day off in three weeks on the field for more wear and tear.