Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mistakes Prove Costly in Wild Loss to Cubs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mistakes Prove Costly in Wild Loss to Cubs

Article excerpt

CHICAGO * With the wind carrying lofted baseballs out to the bleachers and a raucous season-high crowd of 41,534 crammed into the Friendly Confines, there were already enough makings for mischief at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.

The Cardinals didn't need to contribute more.

They lost because they did.

The Cardinals bungled two leads and had to lean on the bullpen when Joe Kelly faltered in a 7-6 loss to the rival Cubs. Assigned to pitch a second inning in his first appearance since returning from the disabled list, lefty Kevin Siegrist hit a batter and allowed the decisive home run in the seventh inning to the seventh batter he faced. Luis Valbuena's two-run shot to the center-field bleachers turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead and the Cardinals' first four-game losing streak of the season.

"In any game here, especially one like this where the ball is carrying, we have to do everything we can to stay close," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We're one deep fly away from getting back in it and taking it over."

The two teams spent most of the afternoon exchanging deep flies, and the Cubs generously offered the Cardinals a few chances to seize the game. A couple of errors in the first inning fueled the Cardinals to a 3-0 lead. The Cubs answered that with Ryan Sweeney's three-run homer off Kelly in the second inning. Home runs by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday in the fifth inning tied the score at 5- 5, and recast rookie Oscar Taveras capitalized on his pinch-hit chance with a go-ahead single in the sixth inning. All around the lead changes the Cardinals had failures to execute at the plate and, most detrimental of all, on the mound.

Kelly could not complete the fifth inning. As a result the Cardinals' bullpen, well-rested though it was, had to cover 13 outs to get a win. Kelly left the game to the bullpen in the fifth inning with a runner on first base and two outs. Sweeney was at the plate with four of the Cubs' first five RBIs, and lefty Randy Choate assigned to him. Choate got a grounder, but Kelly's early departure left the Cardinals exposed again.

"I'd love to see Joe finish the fifth," Matheny said. "Right there we're stuck in a spot. A guy had hit a home run off of him and a single. But typically if we don't get our starter through the fifth (inning), it doesn't lead to good things for us."

The Cardinals remain in pursuit of a starting pitcher as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline zooms toward them. They have engaged the Tampa Bay Rays in discussions about lefty David Price, the prize of the market who may not move until the deadline, if at all. The Cardinals have increased the scope of their targets. While the Cardinals have struggled mostly on offense this season, they are motivated to add a quality starter because of events like Friday's.

Kelly made his third start since returning from a torn hamstring, and Matheny cautioned before the game that the righty had to remain "on the edge because there wasn't too long ago that a game didn't look good. …

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