I’m glad the St. Louis Cardinals managed to hang on to beat the Chicago Cubs Monday night.
But the way the Redbirds did it hasn’t done a lot to convince me that this team has turned a corner from the sloppy play that has plagued it all season.
The Birds scored three runs on a pair of early home runs -- and then shut down the offense for the rest of the night.
They had a chance to pad a one-run lead in the top of the ninth. But they ran themselves out of the inning by getting a baserunner thrown out by 10 feet trying to steal second and later getting another thrown out at the plate.
Matt Carpenter walked with one out and Aledmys Diaz was ahead in the count when Carpenter, not a particularly fast runner, took off.
The pitch was high and Diaz couldn’t make contact on what must have been intended to be a hit and run. So it turned out to be a perfect situation for the catcher to rise up, receive the ball and make a strong throw.
Of course, Diaz walked after that. So, instead of Carpenter trotting down to second and having two on and one out, the Cardinals had a runner on first and two out.
The Cardinals ended the inning by getting Diaz gunned down trying to score all the way from first on a hit by Jedd Gyorko.
The odds Carpenter could have scored from second on the same hit were much better. But, worst case scenario, he would have made it to third and the Birds would have had a good chance to score a much-needed insurance run with a sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the ninth, it was another Trevor Rosenthal heart attack special.
The embattled St. Louis closer allowed the tying run to reach base when Albert Almora hit a one-out double. Then Rosenthal immediately put the winning run on base when he hit Chris Coughlan with a pitch.
The Cardinals got the break of the night when Rosenthal threw another wild pitch that evaded catcher Yadier Molina.
Almora took off for third with a chance to put the winning run 90 feet away. But the ball hit the umpire’s shin guard, and stayed close to Molina.Yadi was able to pick it up and throw out Almora for the second out.
Ben Zobrist singled, which otherwise would have tied the game.
The former Cardinals oufielder and Cubs $100 million man Jason Heyward came to the plate with a last chance to tie or win the game.
He flew out weakly to short centerfield and the Cardinals escaped with a fortunate win.
The bright spot of the night was the pitching performance of St. Louis lefty Jaime Garcia who threw six innings and held the Cubs to two runs while striking out six.
I wasn’t expecting Garcia to be at his best when returning to the site of his 2015 playoff meltdown. But he was very steady and his pitches were nasty.
Diaz, who has seen his batting average dwindle down toward the .300 mark over the past month, pushed his season mark up to .302 with a pair of hits on the night.
The only other St. Louis player to collect two hits was Kolten Wong who upped his season mark to .228.
Another former Cardinals player, John Lackey, took the loss. He allowed homers to Brandon Moss and Jhonny Peralta in the losing effort.
At a bare minimum, the Cardinals have to win one of their next two games in Chicago to show signs that they’re getting up off the mat after a five-game home losing streak.