A start from surprise ace Kyle Lohse and Matt Holliday’s return from the disabled list weren’t enough to keep the St. Louis Cardinals from losing their sixth consecutive game Thursday night, falling to the Washington Nationals in their second consecutive three-game sweep. Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Albert Pujols homered in the loss, which dropped the Cardinals to 38-32, one game back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.
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.