PHOENIX -- Coming off an impressive road trip and suddenly finding themselves within shouting distance of the top spot in the National League West, the four-game series with the Cardinals is something of a measuring stick for the D-backs.
In Monday's opener, they came up short in a sloppy 5-3 loss at Chase Field.
One reason for the success of the Cardinals, who lead the Majors in wins, is that they don't beat themselves and they take pride in not making fundamental mistakes. That's something the D-backs, for the most part, have mirrored this year.
Monday, though, they committed a pair of errors, neglected to cover third base in a key situation and struggled to cash in on scoring opportunities.
"We made some mistakes that we don't usually make," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We made some mental mistakes, too, and they cost us. As you learn to win and be a winning team, a winning organization, you just can't have games like that."
Double plays -- both hitting into them and turning them -- were an issue for the D-backs.
Twice the D-backs grounded into inning-ending double plays when they had the bases loaded, and on another two occasions they were not able to turn a twin killing to thwart the Cardinals.
"We made mistakes tonight and didn't come through, and it cost us," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said.
Goldschmidt had an uncharacteristic night. His throw to second base while attempting to start a double play in the fifth sailed past Chris Owings, and he hit into a 6-4-3 double play to strand the bases loaded in the fifth.
"I hit into a double play, killed the momentum and may have cost us the game," Goldschmidt said.
In the sixth, third baseman Jake Lamb, who was playing over by second base on a defensive shift, had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and was unable to complete a double play that would have ended the inning. Instead the Cards scored a run and took a 2-1 lead.
"That's really not something he's done a whole lot," Hale said of Lamb's inexperience turning double plays.
None of the miscues were huge, but they all added up.
"Little things," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We did some little things wrong, but we did some little things right, too, and enough of the little ones on the positive side put us over the top."
The D-backs have been quick to bounce back from disappointing losses throughout the season, and they've got three more games against the Cardinals to do so again.