Game 1: St. Louis’ hard hitting offense was blanked, as Kansas City took the first game of the series, 3-0.
Chris Carpenter was absolutely cruising through the first six innings, but was challenged in the seventh. The Royals finally broke through, tagging him for three runs in the frame.
It began on a questionable defensive play by Colby Rasmus. The still young centerfielder did not get a good read on a ball off the bat of Wilson Betemit and was unable to make the play. That put runners on second and third, with nobody out. The eventual winning run came immediately after on a sacrifice fly from Brayan Pena. Later in the inning, Alcides Escobar contributed an RBI single and Melky Cabrera capped the scoring with a sac fly of his own.
Overall, Carpenter still had a quality outing…
Carpenter: 6.1 innings, 9 hits, 3 ER, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 0 homeruns
The veteran is now 1-4 on the season, and the Cardinals are 2-8 in his starts. It is a far cry from his usual standards.
“It’s baseball,” Carpenter said. “It’s the way it goes. You’ve got to make pitches. You’ve got to hope for some plays at times, hope for some balls at people at times. There’s all kinds of things that can go on. But I’m not even concerned about, to be honest with you, what’s gone on. I’m concerned about what’s going on next week when it’s my turn to take the ball again.”
Jon Jay, who went 2-for-4, was the only Cardinal with more than one hit. The team was able to muster only six hits total against Jeff Francis and the Royals’ bullpen.
The loss dropped St. Louis to 26-20, still one-half game ahead of Cincinnati in the National League Central.
W: Francis (1-5) L: Carpenter (1-4) SV: Soria (7)
Game 2: After getting shutout for 16 straight innings against Royal pitching, Matt Holliday had the remedy with a game changing two-run homer in the eighth inning to lead the Cardinals to a 3-0 win.
Following a Jay pop out to lead off the eighth, Albert Pujols singled. That brought up Holliday, who crushed his sixth homer of the season to left center field. That put St. Louis up for good, but it did not stop Ryan Theriot from driving inDaniel Descalso in the ninth inning for insurance.
The three runs were more than enough for Jake Westbrook, who has pitched much better in five of his last six starts…
Westbrook: 8 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 0 homeruns
“I’m just being more aggressive,” he said. “Attacking the zone and keeping the ball down. That’s the way I have to pitch. Early in the year I was getting away from that, not being as focused, and it showed. Right now I’m feeling a lot better about the confidence in my sinker and so I’m just going right after guys.”
Both teams had opportunities to score earlier. The Cards had three lead off doubles, but were unable to move them home. In the fourth inning, the Royals had the bases loaded with nobody out. Westbrook induced a 1-2-3 double play off the bat of Jeff Francoeur for the first two outs. Billy Butler followed with what appeared to be a hit up the middle, but Theriot made a surprising good play to throw him out at first and squander Kansas City’s chance to score.
The Cardinals improved to 27-20 and 1.5 games in front of Cincinnati in the NL Central.
W: Westbrook (4-3) L: Collins, T (2-2) SV: Salas, F (6)
Game 3: Patience was the key, as St. Louis walked 13 times and battled back after letting a six-run lead vanish. Rasmus and Yadier Molina drew back-to-back bases loaded walks in the 10th inning for the deciding runs in a 9-8 victory.
Rasmus was a huge part of the walk total, as he went 0-1 but walked five times. That was not only his career high, but also the first time a Cardinal has done that since 1974. Molina contributed greatly, going 4-for-5 with one walk, three RBIs and two runs scored. His average is now .333 on the season.
St. Louis was ahead 7-1 by the fifth inning. Descalso started the scoring with an RBI double in the third. Later that inning, Allen Craig hit a two-run homer to put the Cardinals up 3-0. In the bottom of the frame, Alex Gordon got Kansas City on the board with an opposite field RBI double.
The Birds would answer next inning, when Molina hit a two-run triple and also scored on the play courtesy of a bad throw by rookie Eric Hosmer. That put St. Louis ahead 6-1. They would tack on another run in the fifth on a Holliday groundout.
Kansas City started making it interesting in the bottom of the fifth. Mike Aviles cut their deficit to five with an RBI single. Next inning Francoeur hit a leadoff solo homerun against Jaime Garcia. That would be the end of the day for Garcia, who came back down to Earth a little…
Garcia: 5 innings, 7 hits, 3 ER, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 1 homerun
Still, the young lefty did not pitch poorly and had a four run lead. But Miguel Batista served up a two-run blast two Betemit to make it 7-5, and the following inning saw Brian Tallet serve up a solo shot to Gordon to bring the Royals to within one. Later in the seventh, Betemit singled home Francoeur to tie the game 7-7.
The scoring stopped there until Rasmus and Molina walked home their runs in the 10th inning. Fernando Salas had an eventful ninth inning, surrendering one run on two doubles, but ultimately closed the door yet again.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Rasmus said. “They battled. They put some good swings on us after we took that lead. But to come away with it, I think that’s huge. It shows we didn’t give up.Everybody kept pushing. Today was a long day, long game, hot out there. Both sides were battling.”
The Redbirds did lose their backup catcher, Gerald Laird, to a broken finger. He was hit by a pitch and will go on the disabled list. This is a big blow, as Laird has allowed Molina to take more games off. Also, Holliday left the game for precautionary measures as his quadriceps muscle slightly tightened up again.
St. Louis won another series and improved to 28-20. Thanks to the series win and the Reds getting swept in Cleveland, the Cardinals hold a 2.5 game lead in the division.
W: Motte (2-1) L: Coleman (0-1) SV: Salas, F (7)
Up next: The Birds will head out west to take on the Padres in San Diego as they try to win another series and distance themselves from the Reds. Pitching matchups are scheduled to be…
Game 1 – Kyle Lohse (5-2) vs. Dustin Moseley (1-6)…9:05 PM CT
Game 2 – Kyle McClellan (6-1) vs. Aaron Harang (5-2)…9:05 PM CT
Game 3 – Carpenter (1-4) vs. Mat Latos (1-6)…5:35 PM CT
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