The long ball hurt the Cardinals Sunday afternoon as St. Louis dropped the rubber match of its three-game series to Pittsburgh 9-0.
Cardinals’ rookie starter Shelby Miller served up solo home runs to Russell Martin and Jose Tabata while Fernando Salas allowed a solo shot to Garrett Jones. Martin capped off the homer binge with a two-run blast late in the game.
“I threw some pitches up in the zone and they capitalized on it,” Miller said. “The ball might have been carrying a little bit today, but that is no excuse to give up hits like that.”
Miller was in trouble most of the day as he was unable to record a 1-2-3 inning while on the mound. Miller allowed seven hits and three walks. He was charged with three runs while throwing 113 pitches, 74 of which were strikes.
“At the end of the day, giving up three earned runs and leaving the ball up,” Miller said, “I can’t even count on my fingers how many balls I threw down in the zone. It wasn’t good at all. Overall it just wasn’t a great day, but I know what I need to improve on.”
The only bright side was Miller struck out seven in his 5 2/3 innings of work.
“I felt like I made pitches when I needed to,” Miller said. “I know the situations could have got bad, but I got some double plays.”
Martin’s homer off Miller came with one out in the second inning and traveled 412 feet. It was bookended by a pair of strikeouts. Pedro Alvarez and Brandon Inge were each caught looking.
Tabata’s homer came with two outs in the fifth inning.
With 98 pitches through five innings, Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny was hoping to get one more inning from Miller.
“We wanted to get him through that next inning,” Matheny said. “We were short down there (in the bullpen) and beat up. We needed him to go get us another zero and he got close. A little blooper down the left field line ended up running him from the game.”
In the sixth Miller walked the leadoff batter but erased the runner with a double play. After Ingle singled, Miller was done.
Salas relieved Miller and gave up an RBI double to John McDonald, scoring Inge, that Matt Holliday came up just short of making a circus catch on.
Salas went back out in the seventh and with two outs, served up the Bucco’s third round tripper of the game to Jones.
In the ninth, Mitchell Boggs and Mark Rzepczynski allowed a combined five runs.
Page 2 of 2 - Boggs retired just two of the five hitters he faced and was charged with three runs.
“I made a lot of good pitches today,” Boggs said. “A blooper into right, a shattered bat into left, a strikeout, a great at bat by (Garrett) Jones and a ball that was hit so hard, we could only get one out with the bases loaded.”
The final two runs of the inning came on Martin’s second homer of the game, a two-run shot off Rzepczynski that also came with two outs.
Matheny has not given up on his bullpen.
“We always think, from early on, what our club needs,” Matheny said. “We will just try to evaluate everybody on a daily basis and evaluate ourselves to make sure we are doing what we can do. We never rule anything out, we just keep our eyes on everything.”
The Cardinals managed just three hits. One came from Holliday in the first while Pete Kozma singled in the fifth. St. Louis’ final hit was a single from Allen Craig in the sixth.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Matheny said. “It wasn’t the kind of day we were expecting.”
St. Louis will look to get back on the winning track tonight when the Cardinals open a three-game series with Cincinnati. Adam Wainwright will take the mound against Mat Latos. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.