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Cards go dry again in last seven innings

2013-06-22T15:15:00Z 2013-06-22T22:45:05Z Cards go dry again in last seven inningsBy Rick Hummel rhummel@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8196 stltoday.com

Matt Holliday, the runaway leader in grounding into double plays in the major leagues, hit into his 19th and 20th tonight, the second one ending the Cardinals’ last rally in the eighth inning as they fell to the Texas Rangers, 4-2, at Busch Stadium.

As happened the night before, the Cardinals failed to score over the last seven innings as they lost to the Rangers for a second straight night.

The Cardinals’ record against lefthanded starters fell to 8-10 _ they are 39-18 against righthanded starters _ as they couldn’t handle rookie Martin Perez, who held them to five hits in seven innings.

Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran singled off righthander Tanner Scheppers with one out in the eighth. But Holliday tapped to third baseman Adrian Beltre, who started a round-the-horn double play which ended with Holliday bouncing his helmet in anger, as Yadier Molina did a couple of weeks ago, but without ejection or even warning, as umpire Jerry Meals turned away.

For the season, the Cardinals, who have considerable righthanded power, have hit just .232 against lefthanded pitching, as opposed to .289 agasint righthanders.

Shelby Miller allowed all the Rangers’ runs in 5 2/3 innings as he dropped to 8-5. Rookie relievers Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Michael Blazek, who made his big-league debut, blanked the Rangers on one hit over the last 3 1/3 frames.

The loss ensured that the Cardinals will lose a series at home for only the second time this year. They dropped two of three to Pittsburgh here on April 26-28.

MILLER LASTS 5 2/3

Cardinals starter Shelby Miller won’t gain his ninth victory tonight. After committing a throwing error on a two-out bunt attempt by Texas pitcher Martin Perez, Miller was lifted with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning and the Cardinals trailing the Texas Rangers, 4-2, at Busch Stadium.

But reliever Seth Maness kept the score that way by inducing Ian Kinsler to bounce into an inning-ending forceout.

Miller, throwing 90 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, allowed two home runs after giving up just six in his first 14 starts. The four runs he permitted matched his highest of the season. Miller also gave up four to New York in a 5-1 loss on June 12.

The Rangers and rookie Perez took their 4-2 lead into the seventh.

CRUZ HR GIVES RANGERS LEAD 

As soon as the Cardinals tied the score with the Texas Rangers at 2-2, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz untied it in the third inning tonight at Busch Stadium.

Cruz, who knocked in three runs in Texas’ 6-4 win on Friday, hit an opposite-field, two-run homer to right off rookie Shelby Miller. The blast, Cruz’s 19th of the season, came just after first-base umpire Jerry Meals had ruled Elvis Andrus on a close play as the Cardinals tried to turn a double play on Andrus’ grounder.

Miller had allowed only six homers in 87 1/3 innings before giving up home runs in back-to-back innings tonight.

The score remained the same as the game went to the sixth.

FREESE TRIPLE HELPS CARDS TIE SCORE

David Freese, whose triple in the ninth inning of Game Six of the 2011 World Series kept the Cardinals alive, tripled in the second inning tonight at Busch Stadium to again help his club tie the Texas Rangers.

Freese’s drive off the right-center-field wall rebounded off the wall and clipped the right hand of center fielder Leonys Martin, who had leaped to make the catch. By the time the ball was returned to the infield, Freese was at third.

But not for long. Freese scored on a sacrifice fly by Shane Robinson, who is tied for the team lead at three in that department despite having only 68 plate appearances.

The game went to the third tied at 2-2.

CRAIG  STRIKES AGAIN

Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig, who had the top average in the National League last year with runners in scoring position at .400, is leading the league again this year.

Craig raised his RISP average to .453 with a two-out run-scoring single that sent home Carlos Beltran with the game’s first run as the Cardinals jumped ahead of the Texas Rangers tonight in a game delayed 1 hours 6 minutes in starting by rain.  Beltran had singled off Texas lefthanded rookie Martin Perez with one out and moved up on Matt Holliday’s tapper.

As good as Craig has been with runners in scoring position with any number of outs, he has been even better with two outs this year. His first-inning hit raised his average in that department to an even .500 on 19 for 38.

Cardinals righthander Shelby Miller fanned two of the three Rangers he faced in a perfect first inning but surrendered a double to Adrian Beltre and A.J. Pierzynski's two-run homer in the second as the Rangers seized the lead at 2-1.

IF AND WHEN. . . KELLY WILL BE 5TH STARTER

Now that lefthander Tyler Lyons has been sent back to Class AAA Memphis, the Cardinals have only four active pitchers who have made more than one start this season. And a fifth starter isn’t needed much in the next couple of weeks because the Cardinals have four off days between Monday and July 8.

But if there is a need for one, manager Mike Matheny said today that it would be Joe Kelly, who worked five innings of scoreless relief on Friday after Lyons was knocked out.

“We’ve drawn up at least a dozen models already,” said Matheny, “and we’re trying to think of the pros and cons of each. If there is a start to be had, it will be Joe Kelly.

“The off days offer some options. There’s a lot of variables that go into it.”

One is the club’s desire to protect rookie Shelby Miller, who is pitching tonight against Texas, as much as possible. Miller is likely to receive an extra day of rest more than the other starters.

“We don’t have to make a decision today, so we’re not going to,” Matheny said.

Kelly, who made 16 starts last year, many of them good ones, pitched into the sixth inning in his lone spot start this year on June 5. Counting Friday’s game, he has surpassed 75 pitches twice this month.

Kelly hasn’t been used as much as he probably would have liked because there haven’t been many occasions when long relief was required, due to the outstanding work of the starters. Several times Kelly has gone a week or more between appearances.

“That role doesn’t suit just anybody,” Matheny said. “I know that’s not what his end goal is _ to be that. But he’s certainly been extremely valuable to us.”

ROBINSON IN FOR JAY

On Friday night, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny allowed lefthanded-hitting Jon Jay to bat against Texas lefthander Neal Cotts with the bases loaded in a tie game because he felt Jay had been swinging the bat as well as anybody that night.

After a long at-bat, Jay, a grounded out and the game remained tied until the ninth when Texas scored two runs to win, 6-4. Today, Shane Robinson, who might have been an option on Friday night, is the option. He is starting in center fielder against Texas lefthanded rookie Martin Perez, just recalled from Class AAA.

Jay is hitting .161 against lefthanded pitching and Robinson, in more limited duty, is at .194. But Matheny didn’t seem particularly daunted by Jay’s low average against lefthanders.

“As you have seen in the past, it’s just going to be in streaks,” said Matheny. “It doesn’t matter if it’s left(handed) or right, when his swing’s right, he’s going to have some pretty good at-bats.”

The Cardinals begin the night 8-9 in games started by opposing lefthanders.

Former Cardinal Lance Berkman, normally the Texas designated hitter, again is out of the Rangers’ lineup.

Despite late-afternoon rains, the 6:15 p.m. game still is slated to start at or close to that time.

Cardinals’ lineup:

Carpenter 2b

Beltran rf

Holliday lf

Craig 1b

Molina c

Freese 3b

Robinson cf

Kozma ss

Miller p

Texas lineup

Kinsler 2b

Andrus ss

Cruz rf

Beltre 3b

Pierzynski c

Moreland 1b

Murphy lf

Martin cf

Perez p

CARDS SENT LYONS OUT; BLAZEK IS UP

The Cardinals have brought up another rookie pitcher, although he has been here before.

Righthander Michael Blazek, who was brought up from the minors on May 26 but did not pitch, was recalled from Class AAA Memphis today to take the spot of lefthander Tyler Lyons, who was optioned to Memphis after failing to last two innings in Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.

Blazek, 24, was a 35th round choice of the Cardinals in the 2007 draft.

After being sent back to the minors by the Cardinals on May 30, Blazek appeared in eight games for Memphis, posting a 2.31 earned run average and one save. Four of his outings were of two innings apiece and the Cardinals are in need of a long man of sorts with Joe Kelly having worked five innings in relief of Lyons on Friday.

Blazek struck out 19 hitters and walked just in 11 1/3 innings at Memphis. He had started the season at Class AA Springfield, where he compiled an 0.92 ERA in 19 2/3 innings.

Lyons was 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA in six starts for the Cardinals.

Matheny said Blazek was recalled “because he’s been the best down there.”

As for Lyons, Matheny said, “It has everything to do with (his) fastball location.”

Lefthander Marc Rzepczynski, who has been at Memphis for two months, has a 2.40 ERA. Matheny suggested that being potentially a third lefthander in the Cardinals’ bullpen had worked against his recall, but Matheny said, “I doubt it’s going to be very long." 

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

Copyright 2015 stltoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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