Third inning one to forget for Cards

The Cardinals looked uninspired in a home spanking administered by Milwaukee on Saturday.

ST. LOUIS - The inning started with a soft single to left by Prince Fielder. It ended to a chorus of boos as likely the Cardinals worst inning of the 2010 season.

The Brewers scored four runs in the top of third inning as the Cardinals threw the ball all over the field and then didn't score in the bottom of the inning despite loading the bases with no outs and lost 12-5 to Milwaukee Saturday evening at Busch Stadium.

Chris Carpenter went just three innings, tied for his second-shortest outing since joining the Cardinals, as they failed to pick up a game on the Reds, who lost earlier in the day to the Cubs in Chicago.

Carpenter allowed seven earned runs and nine hits, most of which came in an ugly third inning that could be considered one of the worst in not just 2010, but the last couple of years.

"From the first inning, we have to be more ready to make plays and take at-bats," said manager Tony La Russa. "We did things that were not sharp defensively. I hate to say it's just one of those days, because it should never be one of those days, but it was. We just did not play well defensively.

"We didn't play good defense. Without breaking it down and trying to say who should have done what better, I'll just make it a team thing. We played poorly defensively and that made the first part of the game tough for us and it put our starting pitcher in an whole that even he couldn't pitch out of."

The inning turned disastrous following the single by Fielder to start the frame. Cleanup hitter Ryan Braun hit a soft blooper to right that was misplayed and allowed to fall in for a hit by right-fielder Nick Stavinoha, who then made a poor throw to second to allow Prince Fielder to reach second.
Following a strikeout by Casey McGehee, former Cardinal Jim Edmonds singled to right to score Fielder and put the Brewers up 3-0 (Rickie Weeks homered to lead off the game and then was hit by Carpenter with the bases loaded and two outs in the second to make it 2-0 going into the third).

Instead of taking a sure out, shortstop Brendan Ryan tried to come home with the ball on a grounder hit by Alcides Escobar but made a wild throw to the plate. Braun likely would have been safe anyway, but Ryan's throw went wild and the runners advanced.

"Knowing the hitter, it's Escobar, that ball is hit to my right, I felt like I made the intelligent play to go home because there's no way we're going to double him up," Ryan said. "But the momentum was taking me to my right and I was trying to make a throw forward. It's not an easy play, but I get the same ball, I'm doing the same thing every time. There was no way to double him up going to my back hand.

"I wouldn't lie to you. That's not an easy play and I thought I did everything right except not a great throw home."

La Russa, however, disagreed with the shortstops decision to throw home.

"No, because he's deep enough and the runner runs good enough at third base, no," La Russa said. "It's a heroic type of play, but if you're coming in on the ball and the runner is not as quick, maybe. But he was back. He didn't catch the ball coming in. No, he's got to go to first base."

With runners at second and third and one out, catcher George Kottaras hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to make it 5-0. But the throw from Randy Winn somehow got by second baseman Tyler Greene and trickled into the infield, allowing Escobar to score all the way from second as the boo's began to rain down from the Busch Stadium crowd.

"Just a bunch of mistakes that inning that ended up hurting us and costing us a couple runs, no excuses," said Greene. "I was going out for the cut and I thought the throw might short hop if I tried to go get it so I tried to come back and play the long hop and it kind of kicked to the side on me and just rolled away.

"It happened. I'm not going to make any excuses or anything like that. I played hard the rest of the game and will continue to play hard."

Pitcher Manny Parra, who was hit by Carpenter in his first at-bat, singled to keep the inning alive before Weeks finally struck out to end the inning.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning as they tried to mound a comeback down 6-0. But Winn struck out and Albert Pujols grounded into a double play to end the inning with no runs.

Simply put, the third inning was one to forget for the Cardinals.

"I just wanted to get off the field," Ryan said. "Just one of those innings. It happens every year. That's about as much as I can say."

The Brewers added two more in the fourth and three in the fifth, taking an 11-0 lead before reserve catcher Jason LaRue homered into the Brewers bullpen in the bottom of the fifth inning to score the Cardinals first run.

Pujols followed with a solo shot to left in the fifth, his National League-leading 20th home run of the season.

It was a start to forget for Carpenter, who will likely be elected to his third All-Star Game when rosters are announced on Sunday. Coming off a start in which he was drilled in the right forearm, Carpenter allowed a leadoff homer to Weeks to start the game.

When Carpenter drilled Parra and Weeks back-to-back in the second, it was the first time in his career that he had hit consecutive batters, according to STATS Inc.  In two starts against the Brewers this season, Carpenter has allowed 12 earned runs and 16 hits in eight innings.
But both La Russa and Carpenter said afterwards that the right-hander was healthy and just had an off night.

"I wouldn't go out there if I had an opportunity to hurt myself," Carpenter said. "My arm was fine."

The Cardinals will look to salvage a split in the four-game series Sunday afternoon when Adam Wainwright opposes Yovani Gallardo at 1:15 p.m.


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