Locke pays for a pair of free passes

Locke pays for a pair of free passes

ST. LOUIS -- The Bucs couldn't take the fifth on Tuesday night. As a result, they were guilty of another one-run defeat, this one a 4-3 loss the the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

"The fifth inning -- the top and bottom of it -- is where this game really tilted," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Just a bad inning, all around, for us."

The top half of the frame was a pain, but not painful. The Bucs already had a two-run lead before leadoff singles by Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte went nowhere.

In the bottom half, however, Jeff Locke walked the first two batters, and both scored during a three-run inning that tilted the game.

Asked when he felt the game possibly getting away from him, Locke said, "When I walked the first two guys. This is a team that makes you pay for that.

"I fell behind [Kolten Wong and Jhonny Peralta] and didn't want to give them something too good to hit," he elaborated. "Sometimes a walk is better. At the end of the day, it's better to attack with your pitches with a lead."

By that point Locke had already earned some serious cred, escaping several threats; he had ended three of the first four innings by stranding a runner on third. The high-pressure pitches, and the wavering command, may have just caught up with him.

An easy comparison will tell you where this game got away from the Bucs. Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez totaled 30 balls among his 108 pitches -- in eight innings. Locke delivered 40 balls in his five innings.

"You can't give a team like this extra opportunities," Locke said. "Our motto is, 'One more run than the other team.' Tonight they reversed that on us."

Again. The Cardinals improved to 4-0 at home against the Bucs, with each of the victories coming by one run.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.