Cardinals squander early lead as Waino's funk continues in Philly

Adam Wainwright struggled early to execute pitches and it cost him in the Cardinals' 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Friday night.

Adam Wainwright had trouble executing his pitches early and picked up a loss because of it. 

Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

When the Cardinals reset their rotation to keep Adam Wainwright on regular rest and start Friday night, Mike Matheny said, "We like having him on the mound."

When they give him a three-run lead, they like it even more.

On most nights. On this one, however, the Cardinals' ace blew not one, but two three-run leads and the Cardinals lost at Philadelphia, 5-4, to end a four-game winning streak.

Philly's four-run third was the difference. Wainwright walked two and gave up four hits -- all singles -- and needed 37 pitches to get through the inning. He could have gotten out of the inning giving up only three runs, but an error by Matt Adams allowed the final run to come in.

Still, judging from the telecast, Wainwright's curveball seemed to lack its typical bite much of the night and his fastball velocity also was down -- but not that much. He said after his previous start, when he gave up four runs in seven innings, that he is working his way through a "grindy" stretch of the season. 

He said physically he feels fine and the wear of working 452 2/3 innings since the start of the 2013 season -- 34 more innings than any other pitcher -- is not a problem.

But watching him on the FOX Sports Midwest postgame show, his frustration was obvious.

"I've been in a funk. I've been grinding, grinding, grinding," he said. "You can point to many things, but I haven't been able to execute pitches like I want to. That's the goal going forward. I think I'm going to do that."

Wainwright said he believes he found the adjustment he's been seeking after the third inning, and he did not give up another run before departing after the sixth. It should be noted, though, that Wainwright said something similar after his previous start.

He pointed that out, too.

"I need to go out and pitch and stop talking so much," he said.

3 UP

-- First inning. Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick is known to struggle early and the Cardinals jumped on him. The first four hitters reached and the first three scored, two on a double by Matt Holliday. Holliday then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jon Jay, and a 3-0 lead with Wainwright on the mound seemed like a recipe for a good night.

Watch the Cardinals Live pregame and postgame shows before and after every St. Louis Cardinals game on FOX Sports Midwest.

-- Adams' offense. Remember when he homered in three straight games when his dad, Jamie, was visiting for Father's Day weekend? I was talking with Jamie earlier this week and asked him if he thought about sticking around longer. "I was hoping they might give me a contract," he said, laughing.

Jamie Adams said he had not seen Matt play in person since but was planning to attend this weekend's series in Philadelphia with his wife, Lisa. This time, Mom as well as Dad got to see Matt hit his 13th home run, but his first since July 19. That's four games for Jamie, four homers for Matt. Maybe a contract isn't such a bad idea.    

-- Bullpen. Sam Freeman and Carlos Martinez followed Wainwright with a scoreless inning apiece. Freeman allowed a leadoff single in the seventh and then struck out Ben Reverse, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. In the eighth, after Freeman gave up a leadoff single to Howard, Martinez came in and retired the Phillies in order. 

3 DOWN

-- Adams' defense. In what looked like as dumb a play as the Cardinals have made all season, Adams made an error that cost them a run when Wainwright was in need of a pick-me-up play. With Ryan Howard on second and Domonic Brown on first, Carlos Ruiz singled up the middle and Adams, stationed between third base and the mound, handled the cut-off throw cleanly. Seeing that he had Brown caught between second and third, Adams was about one step from tagging him out but instead of taking another step, he threw to third base -- wildly. Howard, who had retreated back to third after a wide turn, ended up scoring without a play for what proved to be the winning run.

-- Offense after the third. Adams homered to lead off the third, putting the Cardinals back up by three runs, but then the Cardinals' bats went quiet. They threatened in the fourth on one-out singles by Wainwright and Matt Carpenter, but Kolten Wong grounded into an inning-ending double play. From then on, the Cardinals went 15 up, 15 down.

-- Tony Cruz. If he wants to keep catching every other day or so until Yadier Molina returns, Cruz needs to pick up his offense. His 0-for-3 night included two strikeouts on pitches that were not in the strike zone as his batting average dropped to .205. Cruz was due up with two outs in the ninth, but Matheny opted for lefty pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso against right-handed closer Jonathan Papelbon. Descalso flied to left.  

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @StanMcNeal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.