Shutout puts spotlight on Cards acquiring bat

Shutout puts spotlight on Cards acquiring bat

ST. LOUIS -- Three days before baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Cardinals watched another quality start go to waste because of an absence of offense to support it.

Tuesday's 4-0 loss to the Reds served as another reminder as to why the organization continues to peruse the market for a potential lineup jolt. It was the seventh time the Cards have been shut out during a season in which they've actually scored three or fewer runs in half of the 100 games already played.

This time, it was Reds starter Mike Leake who toyed with them. Leake didn't allow a hit until the fifth and did not allow a baserunner to reach third over his eight-inning start. Against Leake, the Cardinals were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"You're going to have those days," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "I believe we have the kind of offense that is going to throw up big numbers from time to time, but that's really not very common in the game right now."

It's not been common around the Cardinals lately, either. Though the club is 8-3 coming out of the All-Star break, it has scored more than four runs just twice. The pitching has helped the Cardinals to four one-run wins during that stretch. In the three losses, St. Louis has scored a total of three runs.

"That's where we are, and that's the kind of baseball we've played all season and found ways to be on the winning side of those," Matheny said. "But, obviously, we'd love to go out there and put up crooked numbers every inning and put up eight, nine runs. I think it's a different era of baseball right now."

Superb pitching has masked many of the offensive issues, as the Cardinals, with 64 wins, remain 5 1/2 games ahead of the Pirates -- who have the National League's second-best record -- in the NL Central. But the numbers show how even a small boost could go a long way.

Because of that pitching, the Cardinals actually own a winning record in games where they have scored exactly two (7-4) or three (13-7) runs. With more than three runs of support, the Cardinals are 42-8. In other words, the pitching staff has made a little go a long way.

The Cardinals have recently been linked to interest in Milwaukee's Adam Lind and Baltimore's Chris Davis, both of whom would fit their search for a left-handed-hitting first baseman. They have looked at being more creative than just filling an obvious hole in their effort to expand their search in a market that isn't ripe with impact hitters. The ability of Matt Carpenter to play elsewhere on the field, for instance, would allow for a third-base acquisition to work.

"I would say we're going to remain open-minded," general manager John Mozeliak said. "If we feel there is something that can help this club, we'll pursue it."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.