ARLINGTON, TEXAS — An early dusting of runs wasn't enough for the Cardinals, not when they didn't find a way to add on and the bullpen failed to hold on.
They had to come up with some late, too.
And still it wasn't enough.
As Jordan Hicks tried to press through for a 2 1/3-inning appearance, the Rangers struck for two hits and two runs in the 10th inning to steal back a 5-4 victory Sunday at Globe Life Park. The loss gave the Cardinals four on the six-game road trip and their 13th in their 17 games. They lost their fifth consecutive series.
Hicks came in during the eighth inning and retired four of the first five batters he faced. Not one of the first five batters he faced got the ball out of the infield. In the 10th, with a one-run lead, he didn't get an out, and the Cardinals had to ask Carlos Martinez to pull off a Houdini -- enter with the bases loaded and get three outs.
He struck out one batter, but Nomar Mazara hit a line-drive to center field that Harrison Bader caught in stride and threw home. Runner Danny Santana scored ahead of the throw to complete the walk-off sacrifice fly.
Dexter Fowler tied the game with a home run in the top of the ninth and Harrison Bader blitzed home from third on a fly ball to put the Cardinals ahead going into the bottom of the 10th inning. Paul DeJong's sacrifice fly gave him three RBIs in the game and bumped the Cardinals to a 4-3 lead. All they asked closer Jordan Hicks to do was pitch in a third inning to hold it.
Bader led off extra innings at Globe Life Park with a double to the left-center gap. The Cardinals' understudy leadoff hitter took third on a groundout, and that put him in position to score the go-ahead run in numerous ways. A hit would have been easiest. Those have been few and fletting for the Cardinals in the past week. A wild pitch would have been possible. Or a fly ball to the outfield. DeJong delivered that with a fly ball to midrange left field.
Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo lined up the catch and threw a dart to home plate. The throw was money enough that it glanced off Bader's left shoulder as he slide toward home. Bader was safe. The Cardinals had their lead. For a moment.
In the eighth inning, Texas pinch-hitter Danny Santana drilled a pinch-hit home run off lefty Andrew Miller to break a 2-2 tie and give the Rangers a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning.
Paul DeJong pressed the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the first inning. Jack Flaherty allowed a solo home run in the bottom of that inning to Shin-Soo Choo and then found a groove on his way to six steady innings. The Rangers tied the game in the fourth inning off Flaherty with Hunter Pence's RBI double. Flaherty would allow only four hits in his six innings.
The Cardinals would get only three while Flaherty was in the game.
After starter Drew Smyly, the Rangers turned again to reliever Jose Leclerc. He tied a career best with five strikeouts in his two innings, and throughout the game both sides benefited from the strike zone called by home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak. A second-year fill-in ump, Rehak gave great deference to the lower region of the strike zone, and each catcher helped his pitcher by slurping pitchers just out fo the zone into it. When it was done against Dexter Fowler for a called strike 3 in the fourth inning, manager Mike Shildt was ejected.
The third ejection of his career with the Cardinals was the third involving a called strike 3. This one was the first that did not involve Matt Carpenter.
The matchup the Cardinals wanted for late innings they got when Miller was able face lefthanded hitter Joey Gallo to start the seventh inning, and another series of lefties was there for him to start the eighth. The matchup got better for Miller when the Rangers removed lefthanded hitter Ronald Guzman for a pinch-hitter, switch-hitter Santana. Santana had one hit and seven strikeouts in 12 at-bats this season from the right side of the plate. In the previous three seasons he's hit sub-.200 with a sub-.200 on-base percentage against lefties.
On a 2-2 pitch over the middle of the plate he lifted a ball 411 feet to the left-field seats to put the Rangers ahead.
Bader hits his way into leadoff spot as Carpenter, Wong catch a getaway break
Once Cardinals manager Mike Shildt committed to getting Jedd Gyorko into the lineup for Sunday's game against the Rangers and their lefty Drew Smyly, the question became who would hit leadoff in Matt Carpenter's place.
Yairo Munoz had before and done well with a couple of hits.
Dexter Fowler has been moving in that direction with his on-base percentage, and has at least been discussed as an alternative to Carpenter atop the order.
Shildt made a different call, convinced by the weekend.
Harrison Bader hit his way into the leadoff spot for the series finale.
The Cardinals' No. 9 hitter in the first two interleague games against Texas at Globe Life Park, Bader hit a solo homer Friday and he had two singles and two more runs scored in Saturday's win. The availability of the designated hitter this weekend has allowed Shildt to start both Jose Martinez and Bader and get Bader's glove in center field. He made a diving catch in center that helped Dakota Hudson breeze through an inning toward a win Saturday.
Bader has made the most of the at-bats after several weeks as a glove off the bench and sometimes starter.
Shildt said Bader's bat made the decision for him.
With Smyly starting for the Rangers, Shildt wanted to get Gyorko and Munoz into the lineup. He repeatedly said that neither had played much on the road trip and it made sense to get them in the lineup, even if it meant removing the everyday leadoff hitter Carpenter after he had two hits and a near-miss homer to left field Saturday. The move does get Carpenter three days off this week with Sunday, Monday's off day, and Thursday's off day. That's a rare respite in the schedule, and it allows Carpenter to rest whatever aches or soreness he has.
This will be the fourth game that Carpenter has not started this season.
Asked if he thought about moving Fowler to leadoff, Shildt said he thinks Fowler looks comfortable where's he has been hitting.
Here's the lineup:
1. Harrison Bader, CF
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
3. Paul DeJong, SS
4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
5. Jose Martinez, DH
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Dexter Fowler, RF
8. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
9. Yairo Munoz, 2B
Pitcher: Jack Flaherty, RHP
And for the Rangers:
1. Shin-Soo Choo, LF
2. Logan Forsythe, SS
3. Nomar Maraza, RF
4. Hunter Pence, DH
5. Joey Gallo, CF
6. Asdrubal Cabrera, 3B
7. Rougned Odor, 2B
8. Ronald Guzman, 1B
9. Jeff Mathis, C
Check back throughout the afternoon here at C-Beat for ongoing coverage of the Cardinals final game against the Rangers this weekend and likely their final visit to Globe Life Park.