Offensive lapses spoil homestand for Cardinals

Offensive lapses spoil homestand for Cardinals

Published Jun. 18, 2012 9:21 a.m. ET

By losing 5-3 in 15 innings to Kansas City on Sunday, the Cardinals finished off a 4-5 interleague homestand against the Royals, Indians and White Sox. And the major reason why the record was that poor was offense. Or lack of it.

In regulation time, the Cardinals scored two runs or fewer in seven of the games, winning two of them when they pitched shutouts. RHP Adam Wainwright allowed just three runs over 14 innings in his two starts on the homestand but got no wins, one loss and one no decision.

On Sunday, Wainwright was one strike away from his sixth victory but RHP Jason Motte, who was throwing in the high 90s and who had fanned the first two men he faced in the inning, left an 0-2 fastball up in the strike zone to Royals pinch-hitter Billy Butler, who launched a game-tying home run.

The Royals went ahead 3-2 in the 14th inning. But Cardinals pinch-hitter Yadier Molina singled home the tying run, after first baseman Allen Craig had committed a baserunning gaffe by not tagging up quickly enough on what would have been a sacrifice fly by second baseman Tyler Greene.

But, in the 15th, after RHP Eduardo Sanchez was beaten to the bag after taking Craig's throw on Royals CF Jarrod Dyson's bunt, the Royals tried to sacrifice. Third baseman David Freese fielded the bunt and looked toward second but SS Rafael Furcal did not go to the bag, instead leaning toward going to an uncovered third base. Freese had to take the out at first.

The Cardinals got another out but Yuniesky Betancourt, who had put the Royals ahead in the 14th, then banged a two-run homer off Sanchez.

The game might not have gone to extra innings if the Cardinals had done anything with a second-and-third, no-out spot in the fifth inning while trailing 1-0. Wainwright tried to bunt an outside pitch, missed it and Greene, who had come down the line thinking the play was a suicide squeeze, was run down. The Cardinals didn't score then, although they got consecutive home runs by LF Matt Holliday and Craig in the sixth.

Manager Mike Matheny said the Cardinals' squeeze was to be more of a safety squeeze and not one that would hang up Greene. He said, "It wasn't communicated properly, 100 percent on me. That's just not good baseball. That's a bad play."

LF Matt Holliday homered for the second day in succession but came out of the game for a pinch-runner in the eighth inning. Manager Mike Matheny said Holliday was dealing with a leg issue that Matheny said he had known about before the game.

RHP Jason Motte blew his fourth save in 18 opportunities. Throwing in the high 90s, Motte struck out the first two hitters he faced in the ninth and had two strikes on Royals PH Billy Butler before Butler turned around another fastball for a home run. "I'd have thrown the same pitch," said manager Mike Matheny. "He threw the same pitch by him twice. If he throws something else, I'd have been upset."

RHP Adam Wainwright's record remained at 5-7 although he gave up just one run in seven innings. "He deserved better," said manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals have scored under four runs a game for Wainwright, lowest on the staff.

1B Allen Craig hit his eighth homer in back-to-back fashion with LF Matt Holliday. Although he scored later in the 14th inning, he didn't score when he should have as he didn't tag up in time on 2B Tyler Green's liner to center. "I wasn't paying attention," said Craig. "It was a bad read. It was stupid."

3B David Freese's hitting streak ended at six games. He had been 10 for his last 24 before going hitless in six at-bats on Sunday.

12 number of losses by the Cardinals' bullpen.

"You can't have a bad decision by the manager and you can't have bad decisions on the base paths when you're in a tight game like that." manager Mike Matheny, taking himself and his team to task for a 5-3 loss in 15 innings to Kansas City.