The Cardinals’ bullpen has increasingly become a sore spot, with outstanding rookie right-hander Eduardo Sanchez back in St. Louis for tests on his stiff right shoulder and veterans Ryan Franklin, Miguel Batista, Trever Miller, and Brian Tallet stuck in slumps that have made manager Tony La Russa reluctant to use them at all. The result has been increased innings for rookie closer Fernando Salas, who struggled in his second inning of work before giving up a walk-off home run to second baseman Danny Espinoza.
The Cardinals will attempt to end their losing streak at home Friday night, when Chris Carpenter comes to the mound against the surprisingly tough Kansas City Royals.
Livan Hernandez shut out the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, picking up the ninth CGSO of his long career and getting his record all the way up to—170-171. It wasn't a banner game for the Cardinals, who also gave up 10 runs to Washington Nationals hitters, including two home runs from Mike Morse, currently fifth in the National League in slugging percentage. Albert Pujols made two errors at third base; Ryan Franklin gave up four runs in a little less than two innings; Kyle McClellan lost in his first game back from the disabled list.
"It was just kind of a frustrating game," McClellan said after the game, and no Cardinals fan is likely to disagree about the fifth straight loss the team has taken since starting their series with the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend 2.5 games ahead in the National League Central.
The good news: The Cardinals are set to get Matt Holliday back in time for Thursday's game. With Eduardo Sanchez out with shoulder stiffness the team's still at half strength, but Holliday, at least, hasn't got another appendix to inflame.
Ryan Theriot's defensive struggles at shortstop continued with two errors that contributed to a Garcia unearned run and additional spotty play on hits for which he wasn't credited—or discredited.
Kyle McClellan, who will be removed from the 15-day disabled list before the game, will get the start on Wednesday as the Cardinals attempt to stop this sudden losing streak at four games. Outfielder Matt Holliday is expected back by the end of this three-game series.
After a brutal series against the Milwaukee Brewers saw them temporarily exit the top of the National League Central standings, the St. Louis Cardinals look to regroup against a Washington Nationals club that's managed to remain respectable despite losing Ryan Zimmerman, in addition to Stephen Strasburg, who won't play in 2011 after last season's elbow surgery. Former Cardinal Rick Ankiel is back from a stint on the disabled list following a wrist injury, but his career as an outfielder continues to stall after the highs of 2008 and 2009. The Cardinals will get an outfielder back, too—Matt Holliday is expected to play Thursday, in the Cardinals and Nationals' series finale.