The Cardinals have happened on a disturbing pattern of 3-2 games. In their last four contests here, they have played three games that ended up at 3-2. All were losses, and so was the other game, for that matter.
Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright knows exactly where that decisive run came on Wednesday at Busch Stadium. Battling Milwaukee's Randy Wolf in a scoreless game in the fifth inning, Wainwright not only allowed a rare steal of third base off him, but he failed to make a fielding play that his Gold Glove status would suggest — and Wainwright would suggest — that he should make. And the Brewers scored what proved to be the winning run.
Speedy rookie Lorenzo Cain was at second after a double with one out. He then stole third ahead of catcher Yadier Molina's strong, on-the-mark throw and scored on a tapper in front of the plate as Wainwright couldn't glove the ball and shovel it home, as he attempted to do.
First the stolen base:
"It was my fault," said Wainwright, who had allowed only five bags to be stolen while he was pitching this year. "I usually go with my instincts on that. I actually was thinking about an inside move (spin and then bluff to second) just to keep him honest. I know he has speed. I just didn't do it, for whatever reason.
"I think I fell into a pattern and I think he saw it. Usually, I mix my speeds up and my times up (to home plate). I think I went into a lull.
"Maybe (Cain) doesn't know about Yadi," Wainwright said, smiling. "Maybe he doesn't care."
With a base open, the Cardinals chose to work to .196-hitting catcher George Kottaras rather than .245-hitting Wolf. Kottaras dubbed a ball about 15 feet in front of the plate, and Wainwright rushed in to make the play at home. But Wainwright never really got a grip on the ball.
"There's no doubt he's out. He's dead," Wainwright said. "I actually thought I was going to scoop it from the left side, but it kind of came into the center of my body, which is always a little tougher. I didn't really know which way to handle it. But I just didn't make the play.
"It's a very easy play. It's going one mile an hour. A professional athlete should make that play every time.
"I won a Gold Glove last year. I should be able to make that play. I had him by five feet if I make the play.
"(Cain) is fast. He can really fly. But he's still out at the plate."
Cain tripled home a run in the seventh and then scored on a short sacrifice fly by Alcides Escobar. That inning started with Prince Fielder singling on an 0-2 pitch.
"I had very good stuff today," Wainwright said. "A couple of times I missed my location and it cost us. I had good put-away stuff. In two situations, I didn't put people away. Three runs that shouldn't have scored."
Wainwright was unable to become the first major league pitcher to reach 18 victories. Instead, he was saddled with his seventh loss as his earned-run average crept above 2.00 to 2.06.
His 11-game winning streak at home ended, as did his 9-0 mark in day games. Wainwright said he especially was proud of the home winning streak.
"It's always fun pitching good in front of the home crowd. Our team has played great every time I've pitched here. A lot of that goes to the team," he said.
"It's a good streak. I'm sorry it had to end. But at some point it was going to end."
Wainwright's streak of consecutive quality starts (three earned runs or fewer in at least six innings) continued and now is at 28, which is a major league record.
"There's no justice in this game," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "Of course, Wolf pitched well. But we care about our guy.
"(Wainwright) was really good again."
Wainwright said, "I just knew I had to match (Wolf) zero for zero. I'm at home, so I'm setting the pace here. He's supposed to be trying to match me. And I felt myself trying to match him. He pitched great."
Wolf gained his 10th win, but probably of more historical significance was Trevor Hoffman's 598th save.