SAN FRANCISCO -- After sweeping a series in Arizona behind reliable defense and all-around execution, the Cardinals gave away too many free bases and extra outs to avoid another crushing ending in a place that haunted them last October.
All five runs in San Francisco's 5-4 victory at AT&T Park came with an assist from the Cardinals, who posted their second three-error game on this road trip and then set up the Giants' walk-off celebration with a pair of free passes.
"Today was a tough day for us," said shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who committed his fifth error of the year. "It was everything today."
Peralta's defensive flub came two batters after Matt Carpenter was unable to cleanly field what should have been a routine groundout to open the bottom of the third. Then, with the chance to turn an inning-ending double play, the Cardinals couldn't get even one out on Brandon Belt's ground ball to second. Peralta let the feed from second baseman Kolten Wong pop out of his glove.
"Weird plays, both of them from guys who have been very, very good defensively," manager Mike Matheny said afterward.
That third inning further unraveled as starter Michael Wacha proceeded to hit Buster Posey, loading the bases for Marlon Byrd, who, 0-for-17 against Wacha in his career, crushed a first-pitch grand slam. It was the first grand slam allowed by Wacha, though it was a pitch he never would have thrown had the inning not turned unnecessarily complicated.
All four runs were unearned.
"Very weird," Wacha said of the fateful frame. "Errors happen in games, but as a pitcher, I try to take it upon myself to get out of those innings and pick up my team. I just wasn't able to do that tonight."
Reliever Jonathan Broxton committed the team's third error when he curiously grabbed a ball that appeared to be rolling foul and tried to lob it over the baserunner to record the first out of the eighth. His throw instead sailed into right, allowing Gregor Blanco to take second. Two walks muddied the inning even more before Broxton preserved a 4-4 tie with a pair of timely strikeouts.
Kevin Siegrist, one inning later, couldn't do the same. Pitching for the fourth time in six games, Siegrist followed a leadoff single by issuing two more walks. Kelby Tomlinson then lined a game-winning single that found a gap through a five-man infield.
"We've been using him a little bit more lately and that can lead to some more inconsistencies at a time when they're feeling the heavy workload," Matheny said of Siegrist, who leads the Majors with 64 appearances. "But that's a situation he knew we were going to need him in. The walks, the free bases aren't going to work in a game like this."