Some notable contributions by rookie pitcher Joe Kelly and backup catcher Tony Cruz were wasted Wednesday night when an inexperienced bullpen came undone again and the Cardinals lost at Miami 5-3.
Kelly, making just his fourth start, issued two walks through six innings. Both of them scored in a two-run Miami fifth. He left after six innings, having allowed only those two runs on five hits.
When Cruz, giving Yadier Molina night off, bashed his first major league home run in the seventh, Kelly was in line for his second win.
But right-hander Fernando Salas was solved for a home run by No. 8 hitter John Buck, who was hitting in the .150s when the series began but hurt the Cardinals with four hits in three games.
Left-hander Sam Freeman, another rookie, replaced Salas and, two pitches later, pinch hitter Logan Morrison homered — after a review — to put the Marlins ahead, 4-3.
Right-hander Victor Marte, effective for the most part this season, was tagged for another run in the eighth and the Cardinals had a good 6-3 trip instead of an outstanding 7-2 one. Their winning streak was snapped at five.
Manager Mike Matheny said he had walked through the clubhouse afterward to remind his team how good the trip had been, notably after losing two out of three in Detroit to start it.
But the lingering aftereffect is that the bullpen has to be fixed. The two home runs on Wednesday night ran the Cardinals’ total for their relievers to 27 for the season, third most in the majors.
“We’ve got to get some outs,” said Matheny “We’re at the bottom of the (batting) order and it was a good opportunity to come right at them. We just didn’t get it done.”
— RHP Joe Kelly had his best start out of his first four in the majors — none have been bad — when he held Miami to two runs in six innings. “I thought he was pitching more today rather than relying on just stuff,” said manager Mike Matheny. Two straight walks when he got a bit loose with his delivery at the beginning of the fifth cost Kelly both the runs he gave up, but Matheny said, “Overall, he did a nice job.” Kelly, still 1-0, said, “I felt more comfortable throwing off-speed stuff for strikes early in the count.”
— C Tony Cruz had a single and his first big-league home run in front of fans and family from the Palm Beach, Fla., area. Regular C Yadier Molina pinch hit for him in the ninth after the Cardinals had fallen behind. Manager Mike Matheny said, “I told him this is a pretty tough league to get a single and a home run and get pinch hit for. He’s been working hard on his stroke.”
— RHP Chris Carpenter, who has been out all season with shoulder weakness attributable to a nerve irritation, will see a nerve specialist, Dr. Gregory Pearl, in Dallas on Thursday. Carpenter, whose shoulder strength had been improving, was scratched from a bullpen session on Monday but felt good enough for an extensive throwing session off flat ground on Wednesday in Miami. “I still have a little ways to go,” said Carpenter. “The way I felt two days, three days ago, compared to now, it’s definitely at a place where it feels good, much different. Monday was tough mentally and physically because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. We got to Tuesday and it was totally different.”
— RF Carlos Beltran drove in one of the Cardinals’ runs in the first inning Wednesday with a sacrifice fly. Beltran had 11 runs batted in over the last six games of the Cardinals’ nine-game trip.
— LF Matt Holliday doubled in the first, giving him six doubles for the trip. Holliday was 15-for-35 (.429) on the trip, which vaulted his average to the .300 level.
— RHP Adam Wainwright, who has a 2.70 earned run average of his last four games, will start the homestand opener Friday against Pittsburgh. Wainwright has made steady improvement this year after missing all last year following elbow surgery. “I feel like he’s back,” said C Yadier Molina.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 — Quality starts the Cardinals had on their just completed nine-game trip. Both of the non-quality starts were by RHP Lance Lynn, a 10-game winner.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “At some point, you need it to progress forward.” — RHP Chris Carpenter on his lengthy bout with a weak throwing shoulder.