ANAHEIM, CA. – In the much anticipated first meeting of the St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols, neither was very exciting as the Cardinals continued their recent interleague woos against the American League West. The Cardinals most recent loss to an AL West team came Tuesday night when the Angels beat the St. Louis 5-1 behind a five-run second inning.
The Angels damage came in the second inning against St. Louis starter Lance Lynn. Lynn surrendered four straight singles to put the Cardinals in a 2-0 hole. After two more hits and an error, the Redbirds trailed 5-0 before Lynn struck out Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to end the inning.
"That's baseball," Lynn said. "They had a good approach and were hitting them through holes. You tip your cap to them. With six singles you don't think you are going to give up five runs."
Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny kept Lynn in the game because he made the needed in game adjustments to keep going.
"(Lynn) did exactly what he did last time and stayed with it," Matheny said. "He made some adjustments and next thing you know he is through the sixth inning. But, five is a long way to come back from. We just couldn't get anything going against (Jered) Weaver."
Lynn took responsibly for the loss.
"Tonight I didn't walk anybody (in the second)," Lynn said. "I couldn't get it done in the second inning and it cost us the game"
Lynn, who was the Cardinals' winning pitcher in the Game 3 of the 2011 World Series in which Pujols tied an MLB record with three home runs, struck out his former teammate in the Angels' sluggers first at bat against the Cardinals.
Lynn was helped out by his defense though as the Cardinals turned a pair of double plays early on. The first was a strike'em out-throw'em out double play in the first inning. Following Lynn's strikeout of Pujols, Yadier Molina threw out J.B. Shuck trying to steal second to end the frame. In the third, following a leadoff single and a strikeout, Lynn turned a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Even with his rough second inning, Lynn (10-3) was able to pitch six innings for the Cardinals. He finished the night with 109 pitches. Lynn struck out eight and walked just one (Pujols) while allowing nine hits.
Despite giving up nine hits, Lynn did not allow any extra base hits to the Angels.
"I made my pitches," Lynn said. "They just hit them through the infield. I am getting ground balls and not giving up doubles in the gap then I would be worried about it. Ground balls and base hits are going to happen. It just happened in a bunch and real quick."
Unlike his previous start against the Astros, Matheny was sure his starter was not out of sync against the Halos.
"I think the game in Houston was one where he was kind of going away from what his normal strength was," Matheny said. "Today I didn't see that as much. Balls were just finding their way through. He has got the stuff to stop the bleeding, just couldn't figure out how to do it."
The Cardinals (49-33) finally got on the board in the fourth inning. With one out, Allen Craig singled and moved to third on Matt Adams double to right field. David Freese then drove in Craig with an RBI ground out to third.
It's not like the Cardinals didn't have opportunities. The Redbirds had runners on in each of the first six innings. During the time, the Cardinals hit into just one double play and left six runners stranded. St. Louis batters struck out five times against Weaver, with all of them coming in the fifth and sixth innings.
"We are just having trouble getting it going right now," Matheny said. "The guys are going to have to keep sticking with what they know is right."
The top of the seventh was the first inning where the Cardinals did not have a base runner.
The Cardinals tried to rally in the eighth with three straight singles from Molina, Carlos Beltran and Craig of Halos reliever Kevin Jepsen. That prompted a pitching change by the Angels (40-43) who had pulled Weaver to start the eighth. Scott Downs got Adams to strike out and induced Freese into a brilliant 3-6-1 double play started by Angels' first baseman Mark Trumbo to end the rally.
"There was a good chance of getting two runs across right there," Matheny said. "We had a good rally going and a great play (by Trumbo). We put together some pretty good at bats that inning."
Craig, Freese and Molina were on base multiple times for St. Louis. Freese and Craig had a pair of hits while Molina also had a pair of base knocks and reached once via error. Adams, Freese, and Matt Carpenter each had doubles for the Cardinals.
While the Cardinals are now 2-7 against the AL West this season, Lynn didn't think it was the teams St. Louis was playing more so than the Cardinals being on another extended road trip.
"I think the problem is this is the fourth straight 10 day road trip and it wears on you," Lynn said. "You come out west and you have two or three off days all on your road trip, that is part of it. You don't see guys and they don't see us, but it is just part of it. It is baseball and you have to play through it."
St. Louis will try to bounce back tonight when the Cardinals face the Angels in the second game of this three-game series. First pitch is at 9:05 p.m.