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Garcia shines, but offense sags in Cardinals loss

The St. Louis Cardinals got an Adam Wainwright-like start from the latest guy trying to fill the shoes of the Redbirds’ ace.

But seven innings with one run allowed on three hits with four strikeouts and no walks wasn’t enough for Jaime Garcia to beat the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Cardinals were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners on their way to being shut out by a Milwaukee team with a bullpen in tatters from a marathon extra-inning game the day before.

Shortstop Jhonny Peralta stranded four on base and catcher Yadier Molina left five men on in the frustrating loss.

In the eighth inning, second baseman Kolten Wong led off with a single. After third baseman Matt Carpenter stuck out, left fielder Matt Holliday lined a ball to right to put runners on first on third with one out.

Peralta, who could have tied the game with a sacrifice fly, instead looked as if he was trying to hit the ball to the moon as he struck out. Molina then struck out swinging with two outs to end St. Louis’ best threat.

Garcia improved his earned run average to 2.70 after three starts since his return from an injury that kept him out of action for nearly a year. But his record fell to 1-2.

He was hit hard in the first two innings but was bailed out by some slick fielding. Jon Jay made a shoestring catch, Heyward made a running grab near the wall and Garcia bailed himself out with a perfect throw to first on a ball that deflected off his heel toward third base.

But after that, he settled in and became a ground ball machine. Garcia recorded 14 outs on the ground and two in the air. His command, which was an issue in his first two starts, seemed to be much better this time. He threw 86 pitches and 55 were strikes.

While many of us are skeptical about his durability because of his health history, Garcia has continued to get better each time out. While the results were frustrating Monday, he ought to win a lot of games if he can keep pitching like he has so far.