Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Poor Homestand Drops Cards 9 Games Behind Cubs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Poor Homestand Drops Cards 9 Games Behind Cubs

Article excerpt

The Cardinals completed a poor 4-6 homestand Sunday, on top of a modest 5-4 record for their first three series at Busch. One key talking point around town is that the Cardinals are a collective 2- 7 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who beat them 10-5 on Sunday, and the Chicago Cubs, and that doesn't count the Washington Nationals, who swept three games at the start of this home stand.

Specifically addressing the 1-5 record against National League Central Division rival Pittsburgh, Cardinals righthander Michael Wacha, the losing pitcher Sunday, said, "It (stinks) losing series to division rivals. But we can't really dwell on this too long."

The home run ball, by which the Cardinals lived for much of the early part of this season, has turned on them. In the 10 most recent games here, Cardinals pitchers allowed 13 homers, good for 22 runs. After giving up just one homer in the first six games of the season, the Cardinals have surrendered 28 in their last 26 games overall.

"It happens," said manager Mike Matheny, who added that the two the Pirates hit Sunday weren't exactly seat-rattlers, and one in particular may not have been off that bad a pitch, although Wacha would disagree.

Wacha held a 1-0 lead over Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole into the fifth when Chris Stewart doubled home a run off an errant changeup and then, in a nine-pitch at-bat, John Jaso lined a two-run homer to right, on another changeup.

"It wasn't just giving up a meatball in the middle of the plate," said Matheny. "You're talking about a guy fouling off four or five pitches, Pretty soon (a pitcher has) got to try something different. You keep working the count and keep wearing him out, there's a chance you're going to get something a little more in the middle of the plate. It was a good at-bat all the way through."

"It was a couple of changeups he fouled off. He fouled off a high fastball. And (Wacha) came back with a pretty good changeup that had (Jaso) not seen so many pitches in the at-bat, he might have swung and missed. We saw that pitch swung through quite a bit today. The more you stand up there, the more comfortable you feel with everything he's got."

* CARDINALS CHAT: Derrick Goold Live at 1 p.m.

Wacha (2-3) has lost his last three starts although his team has scored only two total runs for him, both of those coming Sunday. He didn't criticize the lack of offense in his postgame remarks, instead giving Jaso credit for the critical home run.

"He put together a great at-bat there," said Wacha. "I was making some really good pitches and he kept fighting. He got a pitch he could handle. It was a 'mistake' changeup that I left up in the top of the zone that he doesn't miss."

Before Sunday, Wacha had been 2-0 with an 0.83 earned run average against the Pirates at Busch Stadium. But now he has given up four homers in his last three starts this year after allowing none in his first four. …

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