Remember July 25? That was the last time the Cardinals won a close game, as they beat the Phillies 3-1 for a sweep. In the 12 games since then, of course, the Cards have only won three times — when they scored 13, 13 and 15 runs.
Yet chances to break that streak were plenty last night in the 3-2 loss to the Dodgers. The Cards had eight hits — one more than the Dodgers — as every starter but Daniel Descalso had one (and Matt Carpenter had two) but they left eight runners on base and grounded into one double play.
And once again bunting haunted them, as Carlos Beltran made the curious decision to sacrifice Adron Chambers and Carpenter up from first and second in the seventh inning — a move that, given Mike Matheny’s non-answer when asked about it during post-game press conference pretty much told the story anyway about who actually decided that was a bunting situation. (All he would say was “Sometimes we put a bunt on. Sometimes we do it on our own,” and that pretty much said it wasn’t him.) And then Jon Jay attempted to bunt in the eighth when David Freese was hit by a Paco Rodriguez pitch — and was unsuccessful.
Of course, the Dodgers are a good team too. Very good. The win was their 15th straight on the road, they’ve won five in a row overall and their lead in the NL West is now up to six games over the Diamondbacks. The run that was the difference in the game was driven in by Zack Greinke, who’s hitting .405 for the season and now has 15 hits and three RBI. And whether you appreciate Yaisel Puig or find him over-hyped, his impact on last night’s game was undeniable. He had a single, scored the game’s second run and made this throw in from the right field wall after fielding David Freese’s hit that, thanks also to Nick Punto and A.J. Ellis, cut down Allen Craig at the plate.
(Was it a wise move to send Craig? Well, everything had to go exactly right for him to be thrown out. Which is exactly what happened, unfortunately.)
Adam Wainwright was decent last night, as he allowed all three Dodgers runs in seven innings and struck out five while walking two. Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness were perfect in relief, retiring the six Dodgers they faced.
Maybe tonight will be the night the Dodgers road streak ends and the Cardinals can win a close one — or get another blowout, whichever works. Clayton Kershaw, who was just named July’s NL Pitcher of the Month and leads the league with a 1.87 ERA, starts for the Dodgers — yet he’s 4-4 against the Cards for his career and they scored four runs off him in May and won 5-3. And Joe Kelly is up for the Cardinals, with his streak of 14 2/3 scoreless innings. Game time is 7:15 p.m.