ST. LOUIS -- In a season thus far highlighted by winning streaks, the 51-win Cardinals find themselves stuck in bit of an uncharacteristic rut. For the first time this year, the club has dropped three straight home games, the most recent a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Padres on Thursday night.
The script was similar in this one as it had been in the pair of losses to the White Sox that preceded it. Miscues on defense proved costly. And an inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position stung.
"It's been pretty consistent, when we let those go, they come back and bite us," manager Mike Matheny said. "And also missed plays, non-plays. When these games have gone in the wrong direction, those usually hurt."
The Cardinals entered the night hitless in their last 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That skid extended to 24 before Matt Carpenter's fifth-inning double drove home a run. It would be the last hit the Cardinals tallied with a runner in scoring position all night.
The go-ahead run was stranded on third in both the eighth and ninth-inning of what was then a tie game. First baseman Derek Norris' ability to smother a sharp grounder by Yadier Molina in the ninth spoiled a potential game-winning hit.
"I just feel like it's one of those times where it's not falling your way," Jason Heyward said. "Yadi's ball, full extension dive right there, and that's a run. Sometimes we hit it too hard, you feel like, and sometimes you hit it right at them to where we can't score. The last three games, there's been that one AB where we didn't get the hit, but we're in the situation."
Overall, the club has hit .207 during this three-game losing streak and left 29 runners on base.
On the defensive end, a Cardinals club that ranks fifth in the Majors with 21 Defensive Runs Saved has been giving them away too frequently as of late. Double plays not turned in each of the games against Chicago led to a run.
Then there was a pair of two-base errors on Thursday, one committed by left fielder Randal Grichuk and the other by Carpenter. The latter helped the Padres sneak ahead, 2-1, in the fourth with an unearned run.
The Cardinals have committed errors in four consecutive games for the first time since May 5-8.