"We've had to pitch pretty well to win games," Lackey said afterward. "I was trying to hold them right there, but their guy was pitching pretty well, too."
Brandon Phillips opened the inning with a two-strike single, after which Joey Votto dropped a hit into center that outfielder Randal Grichuk would have had a play on had he broke forward on contact.
"He took a big cut," Grichuk explained. "I took the first step back and couldn't recover."
A double play positioned Lackey to get out of the inning unscathed, but four straight batters reached before he notched that third out. Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd tallied RBI doubles. Eugenio Suarez capped the inning with a run-scoring single.
"I thought I made a pretty good pitch to Bruce," Lackey said. "He fought it off and went the other way and got one down the line. The next two hits, I definitely need to make better pitches on. They weren't very good. I need to minimize that damage a little bit better."
He did from that point forward, though it didn't alter the outcome. Beginning with a one-out strikeout of All-Star Todd Frazier with runners on the corners in the second, Lackey retired every batter he faced for the rest of his 102-pitch effort.
That at least ensured Lackey of his 10th consecutive quality start, during which he's posted a 1.91 ERA. He's now allowed three or fewer runs in all but three of his 22 starts.
"He's been doing that all year," Matt Carpenter said. "It wasn't a surprise to us at all. We knew he was going to keep us in the game. He goes out there every day and does that. It was a shame we couldn't score more runs for him."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.