(Busch Stadium) On the brink of winning their first series and back-to-back games since the beginning of May, the St. Louis Cardinals came up short once again, losing to the Atlanta Braves 4-3 in 10 innings tonight.
“They all sting, that one stings a little more than most,” Mike Shildt admitted. “When you get to that point in the game, we’ve just got to be able to figure out a way to bring it home.”
This was the seventh consecutive series the Cardinals have lost, their longest such streak since June of 2017.
After being held without a hit through the first three innings, the Cardinals opened things up in the fourth inning. After an error by Austin Riley in left placed Kolten Wong at second base to lead things off, Harrison Bader singled into right field. Wong came around to score and Bader advanced to second on the throw.
Bader promptly stole third base. Jack Flaherty then grounded to Josh Donaldson, who threw wide to home, allowing Bader to score the unearned run.
An inning later, Marcell Ozuna stole second and then moved to third on a single by Matt Carpenter. Yadier Molina delivered a sacrifice fly to left to score Ozuna for the final run of the game. It was the 68th sacrifice fly of Molina’s career, which ties him with Albert Pujols for the most in Cardinals franchise history.
After six scoreless inning by Flaherty, John Gant and Carlos Martinez combined for two more shutout innings before Jordan Hicks yielded a pair of runs and was unable to record an out before giving way to Andrew Miller with runners on second and third. Miller struck out Brian McCann, but then Ozzie Albies singled to right to score Nick Markakis with the tying run.
“I went out there and just tried to make my pitches,” Hicks said. “Donaldson got a nice little piece, any higher it’s an out. Any lower–it is what it is. At the same time, I don’t want to change anything physically. I’m at a good place.”
In the tenth inning, a pair of Braves hitters reached base before a conference was held on the mound with pitcher Tyler Webb and it was decided to intentionally walk Austin Riley and load the bases. Brian McCann walked and Freddie Freeman scored the winning run.
“The reality is, we weren’t going to let him beat us,” Shildt explained of walking Riley. “The at-bats he’s taken. You can go right in there and take your chance, but we’d rather have a lefty on the can. We know we’re putting in play setting up a walk bringing in a run. It’s about trusting the positives, we like the matchup, and it didn’t work out.”
For an MLB-best seventh consecutive start, Jack Flaherty held the opponent to four hits or less. It also was the first game of his career that he did not allow a walk or run.
“All losses suck,” Flaherty stated. “There’s never a day I walk away out of this clubhouse, we lose a game and it doesn’t feel….they all feel the same. They all suck for me. I can’t speak for everybody else. Yesterday, was great. We won. That’s our job, that’s what we’re supposed to do. Just go out there compete and do everything we can to go out and win a ballgame. The more times we compete, the more times we focus on executing what we can execute the better position we’re going to be in at the end of the day.”
Disappointed as he was with the result, Flaherty bristled at calling the Cardinals recent stretch “a rut”.
“Don’t call it a rut,” he said. “We’ve just had a bad few games. We won yesterday, we were right there today. I’m not going to call it a rut. It’s just continue to try to put at-bats together. As pitchers, we have to continue do our thing. We can’t go out there and come into games or situations and be scared or nervous about outcomes. You just have to go focus on executing your pitches and executing what you can. Forget the results, forget the outcomes. The more times you go do your thing and you go execute your pitches and you continue to work on that, good things are going to happen.”
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports