Pick your poison: Sloppy defense, poor pitching and not-so-clutch hitting burn the Birds

Kolten Wong and the Cardinals failed to score more than one run for the third straight game. 

Lenny Ignelzi/AP

Look at it this way: The Cardinals have nowhere to go but up after their 12-1 loss at San Diego on Wednesday night.

It was that ugly. For example:

They gave up eight runs in one inning, three scoring when Jhonny Peralta let a grounder go right between his legs with the bases loaded. It somehow was scored a double.

Rookies Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong let a routine pop-up fall between them, resulting in another gift double and leading to the Padres’ first run.

Peter Bourjos was picked off first when they still were in the game and threatening to mount a rally.

Four of their five pitchers who appeared in the game all gave up at least two earned runs.

Finally, they managed to score only one run for the third straight game and the 28th time this season. Last year, they managed one run or fewer only 23 times all season.

At least they won’t have long to dwell on the debacle. They wrap up a six-game road trip Thursday afternoon against the Padres with first pitch scheduled for 2:40 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Midwest.

3 UP

— Replay challenge. With the Cardinals down 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Mike Matheny hopped out of the dugout ready to fire up the troops when Will Venable was ruled safe at first on what appeared to be a double play. And guess what? It turned out to be a double play after the safe call was overturned on Matheny’s challenge. It was only the third of 17 challenges this season that went in Matheny’s favor.


— Shutting down Jeff Francoeur. He’s back in the majors, but he’s still not hitting, which proved beneficial for the Cardinals in the seventh. Pinch-hitting for starter Jesse Hahn, Francoeur led off the bottom of the inning by striking out. The next eight Padres all reached base — and scored — before Francoeur came up again and made his second out by grounding to first. He did not come up again.

— Justin Masterson. Wednesday’s trade for the big right-hander might or might not pay off on the field, but for one day it allowed attention on the club to be diverted off the field. The way the Cardinals played, that was a good thing.


— Joe Kelly. His curveball looked sharp but he struggled with pretty much everything else. He didn’t pay enough attention to a runner on second, who stole third without a throw and then scored on a single when he might not have if he had still been on second. Mostly, though, Kelly did not seem to put his fastball where he wanted. He walked only one but gave up seven hits — including a homer to Jedd Gyorko, who is hitting .178 — and four runs while needing 91 pitches to get through five innings. In four starts since coming off the disabled list, Kelly has allowed 16 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings.

— Taveras. The Cardinals had runners on first and third with no outs in the seventh when the rookie right fielder came up essentially needing to make contact to get an RBI. Instead, Taveras struck out on three pitches, waving at a curveball for strike three. He fared no better in his other three at-bats; he hit into a double play and grounded out twice to the shortstop.

— Sloppy third. Miscommunication on a routine pop-up and a wild pitch resulted in a gift run for the Padres in the third. On the communication breakdown, Wong was going back from second base and Taveras was coming in from right field and both appeared to be calling for the catch. Wong turned away just as Taveras was trying to avoid a collision. Neither got a glove on the ball, so it was ruled a double for Alexi Amarista. He advanced to third on an infield grounder and scored on a wild pitch by Kelly with two outs.

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