MLB Insiders - Wearing Out Home Plate

For the eighth time in their last 25 games, the Cardinals allowed 10 or more runs in a game. They have lost all of those games, ncluding a 14-5 rubout Tuesday night by the Atlanta Braves, , who whipped them 15-3 the night before in St. Louis and 14-4 a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta. The last two nights there has been more traffic at home plate than on Hwy 40.

Jason Marquis, who allowed 13 runs in five innings in a game a month ago against the White Sox, was only a run better than that Tuesday night. He surrendered 12 runs in five innings, including three of the Braves' five home runs, swelling his league-leading total to 24 homers allowed this season.

"He threw a lot of balls over a lot of the plate," said manager Tony La Russa, who didn't feel as if he had to apologize for letting the 11-game winner get hammered for the second time.

"He has a responsibility to give us a better chance to win," La Russa said. "After that, I don't see what the problem is, other than that we got so far behind, it's embarrassing."

Yet the Cardinals maintained their 3 1/2 game lead in the National League Central over second-place Cincinnati, which was pounded 8-3 by the Mets.

REPLAY: Atlanta scored in each of the first six innings and seven of nine innings Tuesday in a 14-5 rout of the Cardinals. The Braves hit five home runs, giving them 15 homers against Cardinals pitching in their last 41 innings over five games. Jason Marquis, though still tied for the league lead in wins at 11, saw his ERA skyrocket to 5.97.


--The five homers allowed by Cardinals pitchers Tuesday were the most since Aug. 20, 2003, when they gave up seven to Pittsburgh. The Cardinals have been outhomered 9-2 the last two nights, with CF Jim Edmonds hitting both of St. Louis' round trippers.

--CF Jim Edmonds' homer Tuesday extended the club's home run streak to 15 games, three shy of the team record set in 2000.

--1B Albert Pujols matched his season-high hitting streak at eight games. He is 16-for-36 (.444) in that time.

--After St. Louis relievers had given up just one run in 21 innings, they have been battered for 12 in nine innings in the past two games.

--LF John Rodriguez, who had been 2-for-20 as a pinch hitter, is 4 for his last 6, including an RBI triple Tuesday night.

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