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Cincinnati Reds vs St. Louis Cardinals

Matt Carpenter grimaces after fouling off a ball in the third inning during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

SEATTLE — For a while, the Cardinals went into T-Mobile Park and did what the home ball club does, only one better.

They slugged.

Two homers from Jose Martinez and clutch, two-run launch from Yairo Munoz had allowed the Cardinals to keep pace with one of the best home run-hammering team in the majors. The Seattle Mariners returned home for this three-game interleague series with 150 homers already this season – second only to Minnesota’s big lake boppers – and going into the late innings the Cardinals had tied them on the scoreboard and bested them over the wall. It didn’t last.

Tim Beckham drilled a pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning to send the Mariners to a 5-4 victory late Tuesday night.

The Cardinals got the tying run into scoring position in the ninth inning with one out before reliever Roenis Elias got a strikeout and a groundout to secure his 11th save. The late-game snap left the Cardinals with their sixth loss in past seven games.

Beckham replaced left fielder Mac Williamson, who had struck out all three times he came to the plate. Against righthander Giovany Gallegos, Beckham turned on a 1-2 pitch for his 13th homer of the season.

In the seventh inning, Munoz’s two-run homer had tied the game, 4-4. With two outs in the inning, Kolten Wong slashed a double to left field that brought Munoz, the leadoff hitter du jour, around as the tying run. The infielder hit his first home run of the season – tying the game and goosing the Cardinals’ dugout. Until that point, the only offense the Cardinals had mustered were Jose Martinez’s solo homers and a scattering of hits that left them chasing the Mariners from behind. Power caught them up – and fast.

Until it put them behind – for good.

The game Tuesday night began with a moment of silence for Los Angeles Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs. He was found dead Monday in a hotel room in Southlake, Texas. Skaggs was 27. Skaggs had been a friend and workout partner for Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, and a few hours before first pitch Tuesday manager Mike Shildt said his righthander would be playing that night “with a heavy heart.”

Before he threw a pitch Tuesday night, Flaherty went to the backside of the mound and, with his finger, wrote “TSKAGGS” in the dirt. He put his hand over the name, and then pointed to the sky. He had penned a similar tribute on his right cleat: “RIP TSKAGGS.” And earlier in the day, the Cardinals righthander shared photos of his friend and wrote a tribute to him on the social media site Instagram.

“Everyone deserved a little bit of Ty in their life,” Flaherty wrote. He added how Skaggs “brought the spark every single day of your life. You challenged us to bring that same spark.”

Skaggs’ relationship to Flahery was described as “mentor.”

Manager Mike Shildt said he and Flaherty did discuss going into Tuesday’s game whether he would be comfortable making the start, as scheduled.

“He felt it was better for him to go ahead and take the start,” Shild said. “Jacks’ got a heavy heart himself. He’s going to pitch with one.”

His cuffs hiked-up high to show off his stirrups and his friend’s name written on his cleats, Flaherty sidestepped trouble in the first inning. The second became a quagmire. A series of hits followed by a pair of walks bloated Flaherty’s pitch count and erased the Cardinals’ lead. With two outs, the Mariners scored two runs, and the one that put them ahead, 2-1, scored when Flaherty gave Domingo Santana a five-pitch walk with the bases loaded. Dee Gordon had singled home the other run four batters earlier.

It took Flaherty 62 pitches to get six outs.

When catcher Omar Narvaez singled to lead off the third inning, seven of the nine spots in the Mariners’ order had reached base. Flaherty struck out the final two batters in the lineup to strand two runners in the third inning and regain a hold on the start. He retired the side in order in the fourth inning with two more strikeouts and had momentum working for him. His pitch count stacked against him. It took the Cardinals’ second-year starter 91 pitches to complete four innings. His 92nd was the start of a leadoff walk in the fifth, and his 96th was launched for a two-run homer by Narvaez that doubled the Mariners’ score.

Flaherty would get to face the next two batters before his curiously timed removal from the game. Reliever Dominic Leone had started warming in the second inning, sat down, and revved back up again in the fifth. Flaherty struck out the two batters he faced after the homer, and then as he was one out away from finishing five innings he was pulled, his evening done after 103 pitches. Coming to the plate was the one batter he had already struck out twice.

Flaherty walked four and struck out seven in his 4 2/3 innings.

The Mariners advertised the use of an opener Tuesday with lefty Wade LeBlanc poised to enter as the de facto starter for the game – offering length through the middle of the game.

Shildt went with a lineup geared toward a lefty, not the righthanded reliever Matt Carasiti who was the placeholder in the first inning for LeBlanc. That put Munoz atop as the leadoff hitter.

Stacked behind him, DH Martinez.

Before the start of the interleague series, Shildt said how the Cardinals’ best lineup has Martinez in it, and in an American League ballpark that allows Martinez to be the designated hitter. By not playing the field during the game, the Cardinals want him to use that time to work in the field during batting practice. During the game, all he has to do is hit.

Martinez connected off the opener Carsiti in the first inning, and then five innings later drilled a pitch off the non-starter LeBlanc. Martinez’s first homer went into the left-field seats, and his line-drive home run off LeBlanc reached the right-field seats. For Martinez, it was his first multi-homer game of the season and his first in more than a year. Before the seventh inning, Martinez had produced the Cardinals’ only runs on two solo homers.

***

Carpenter goes on injured list with lower back spasms as Brebbia returns early

Wiped out one day by a stomach bug that had the Cardinals unsure if he would travel with them out of San Diego, third baseman Matt Carpenter has gone on the injured list the next with lower back pain.

Carpenter's move to the 10-day IL opens a spot for reliever John Brebbia on the active roster as the team begins an interleague series vs. the Mariners.

The team had originally advertised that Brebbia would not rejoin the team until San Francisco. He left the club Saturday to be present in Atlanta for his wife giving birth to the couple's first child. Brebbia will be with the team at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday as they start a three-game visit.

Carpenter did not start a game in San Diego and appeared sparingly in the series. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said the reasoning was to give Carpenter "a break," and that Tommy Edman had earned the playing time at third base and as the team's leadoff hitter. Carpenter and Shildt both said that he was physically fine, and that he was cleared and available to pinch-hit when needed.

Until Sunday.

A stomach virus overtook Carpenter on Saturday night and left him dehydrated and nauseous for most of the day Sunday. He was not available to play at all that day after originally being scheduled to start. Carpenter said he was feeling better after the game and able to travel with the team, but was peaked and lethargic.

Carpenter last appeared in a game Friday, so he's already three days into the 10-day IL stint. Still, the timing of the assignment means he won't be eligible to come off the IL until after the All-Star break when the Cardinals open the second half of the season at home against Arizona.

Here is the lineup that will back Jack Flaherty, complete with a DH:

1. Yairo Munoz, 3B

2. Jose Martinez, DH

3. Paul DeJong, SS

4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B

5. Tyler O'Neill, LF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Dexter Fowler, RF

8. Harrison Bader, CF

9. Kolten Wong, 2B

Pitcher: Jack Flaherty, P

This blog will be updated with news, notes, quotes, and any anecdotes from T-Mobile Park in Seattle.

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Derrick Goold is the lead Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and past president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.