D-backs stay winless vs. Cards this season

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Joe Saunders has been reliable for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The lefty said his own stubbornness was partially to blame for a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.

He gave up two insurance runs in the sixth inning while pitching with a bruised and swollen left thumb after deflecting Matt Holliday’s comebacker for the final out of the fifth.

“Hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gone back out there,” Saunders said. “I won’t come out of the game. I just didn’t have my best stuff there in the sixth. I tried to pitch through it.”

Hindsight, he’d have been fine if Holliday’s grounder went through for a hit.

“I just couldn’t let that ball go through the middle. I had to put a hand on it,” Saunders said. “He doesn’t hit balls very softly.”

Saunders (6-9) gave up five runs, the first time in 11 road starts this season that he gave up more than three earned runs. He entered with a 2.49 road ERA, fourth-best in the league.

Manager Kirk Gibson said that Saunders’ biggest problem was falling behind hitters, noting that the Cardinals got homers from David Freese and Allen Craig plus a two-run triple by Rafael Furcal after Saunders had to come in with a fastball.

“The pitch to Freese pulled across the plate and he put a good swing on the ball,” Saunders said. “Then the pitch to Craig, I tried to go away and left it down the middle.”

Saunders allowed six runs in his last start against the Cardinals on May 7 at Arizona. The five runs allowed were the most against him since the Giants scored six on May 13.

St. Louis homered twice for the second straight game and will go for a sweep of the three-game series behind 12-game winner Kyle Lohse on Thursday night.

The Cardinals are 5-0 against the Diamondbacks this year and have won seven straight dating to last year.

“They’re a quality team, they’re quality hitters,” Saunders said. “They make every out count and they don’t give any at-bats away. Whatever we do, we just can’t catch a break against these guys.”

Adam Wainwright (11-10), who was 0-3 in April before starting to regain his form, pitched six innings for the win. He’s 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his past five starts.

Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt hit a homer estimated at 456 feet, longest by an opposing player at seven-year-old Busch Stadium, in the fourth.

Wainwright took a peek before asking for another ball.

“I went `Whoa, that’s way out!'” Wainwright said. “I literally said that out loud because he just mashed it.”

Goldschmidt’s first homer in nine games came on a drive that soared over the visitor’s bullpen in left.

The distance of the homer is the fourth longest overall at Busch, and is 13 feet shy of Holliday’s stadium-record homer off the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster on July 20.

The Diamondbacks (58-59) have lost eight of 11 and dropped below .500 for the first time since they were 49-50 on July 26.

“It’s been frustrating,” Chris Johnson said after going 0 for 3. “We’ve played some games we could have won and we’re not taking advantage of that right now.

“We just need to relax, stay calm and I think we’ll be all right.”

Freese ended a 0-for-20 slump with his 16th homer after Carlos Beltran doubled with two outs in the fourth to put the Cardinals up 2-1.

Craig hit his 18th to right-center in the fifth and the Cardinals got three straight hits from the bottom of the order capped by Furcal’s liner into the right-field corner in the sixth.

Furcal was moved to the bottom of the lineup last week while battling back issues and a slump. He also doubled in the third for his first mulitihit game since July 24.

Edward Mujica and Mitchell Boggs each worked a scoreless inning. Jason Motte finished for his 27th save in 31 chances.

NOTES: Cardinals C Yadier Molina was out with mid-back tightness and thought prior to the game that he might miss a few games. … Saunders is 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 17 career starts against the NL Central, including 2-3 this year. … Arizona is 3-44 when scoring three or fewer runs. … Lohse (12-2, 2.72) has won six straight decisions over nine starts. Trevor Cahill (9-10) seeks his 50th career victory for Arizona. … Miguel Montero singled his first two trips and is batting .369 (24 for 65) his past 19 games against the Cardinals.