The Cardinals, playing with fire by being unable to hit through the first six innings of their previous four games, were burned tonight after winning three of those games.
After getting only two hits and no runs off Seattle rookie starter James Paxton through six innings, they didn’t do all that much in the later innings either, falling, 4-1, to the Mariners and also falling back into a first-place tie in the National League Central Division with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rookie Michael Wacha, suffering his first big-league loss in four decisions, was scoreless for the first four innings but walked Paxton, who never had batted professionally before tonight, leading to a two-run fifth inning.
Wacha lasted just five innings, walking four and fanning seven.
Matt Carpenter became the first Cardinal in nine years (Albert Pujols) to reach 50 doubles when he stretched a hit to right into two bases and scored the Cardinals’ only run in the eighth.
The finale of the three-game interleague series will be on Sunday. With that lone interlegue game remaining, the Cardinals are 9-10 against the American League while the Pirates finished at 15-5.
Carpenter gets 50th double
An aggressive baserunning play by Matt Carpenter in the eighth inning turned into his 50th double of the season and, ultimately, the Cardinals’ first run of the night. They still trailed the Seattle Mariners, 3-1.
After his one-out drive to right, Carpenter didn’t hesitate as he lit out for second, sliding headfirst safely as he beat Abraham Almonte’s throw.
Shane Robinson’s grounder moved Carpenter to third, from where he scored on Charlie Furbush’s wild pitch.
The last Cardinal to have 50 or more doubles was Albert Pujols, who had 51 in 2003 and 2004.
Morales HR gives Seattle 3-0 lead
After Tyler Lyons worked two scoreless innings of relief for the Cardinals tonight, Kendrys Morales, one of the few veterans on the field for the Seattle Mariners, launched a 433-foot homer to left center in the eighth inning to increase the Mariners’ lead to 3-0.
Cards silenced through six again
The Cardinals’ almost incredible penchant for not hitting in the first six innings of recent games has continued tonight. They had just two hits (and no runs) off Seattle lefthaned rookie James Paxton through six innings and trailed, 2-0.
In their last five games, the Cardinals have had a total of nine hits through the first six innings of those games. Remarkably, they won three of the first four.
The Mariners pinch hit for Paxton in the seventh but that didn't do much good either as the Cardinals had only a harmless walk against two Seattle relievers.
Wacha is hurt by walking pitcher
Walking the opposing pitcher generally isn’t a good thing, especially if the pitcher hadn’t batted in a big-league game before. But Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha walked his rookie opposite, Seattle lefthander James Paxton, in the fifth inning of a scoreless game tonight at Busch Stadium and the upshot was a two-run inning for the Mariners, snapping a scoreless tie.
Dustin Ackley singled and Paxton, trying to bunt, didn’t have to, as Wacha walked him. Brad Miller did sacrifice and then Franklin Gutierrez doubled home both runners with a drive to left. That snipped Wacha’s streak of scoreless innings at 23 2/3.
After Wacha walked Kyle Seager for his fourth walk of the night, he had a visitor at the mound in pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. Wacha dispatched Kendrys Morales on a fly out and fanned Raul Ibanez but departed for a pinch hitter in the home fifth after throwing 93 pitches, fanning seven.
Pinch hitter Rob Johnson walked, giving the Cardinals two on with two out, but Matt Carpenter struck out on a high fastball.
Wacha escapes third-inning jam
Rookies Michael Wacha of the Cardinals and Seattle’s James Paxton were perfect through two innings tonight at Busch Stadium.
Wacha was imperfect in the third when he walked the first two hitters he faced and allowed a one-out single to Brad Miller. But Wacha also struck out three hitters in the inning, including Franklin Gutierrez and Kyle Seager with the bases loaded to maintain the scoreless tie.
The Cardinals had a mild threat in the third when Wacha beat out an infield hit with two out as Paxton missed on a backhand attempt at a slow roller, slipping to the ground, and Matt Carpenter walked.
But Shane Robinson was nipped at first by shortstop Miller, who fielded a grounder in the hole.
Peterson starts at 1B
Brock Peterson, hitting .095, is getting a rare start at first base tonight for the Cardinals against Seattle and lefthander James Paxton. One reason is that Cardinals manager Mike Matheny still wants lefthanded-hitting Matt Adams to be in a better groove before he plays him against some hard-throwing lefthanders, even though Adams has four homers this month, one off a lefthander
Another might be that the righthanded-hitting Peterson has homered off Paxton this year, on May 19 in Tacoma when Peterson was playing in Memphis and Paxton was at the Mariners’ affiliate there.
Paxton, who will be making his second big-league start, held Tampa Bay to one earned run on four hits over six innings in his first start.
Matheny said the 6-foot-4 Paxton pitches much like Michael Wacha, the Cardinals’ 6-foot-6 righthander who will oppose Paxton. Both pitchers throw over the top or close to the top with a considerable downhill plane.
Wacha takes a scoreless streak of 19 2/3 innings into the game, including 13 over his last two starts _ one against Cincinnati and one against Pittsburgh.
Matheny thought Wacha (3-0) had been a bit "erratic" earlier in the season but not now.
"He’s doing a nice job of controlling the bottom of the strike zone _ the same thing we saw all spring training," Matheny said.
M. Saunders cf