Loss of lead is a rarity for Cards' relief corps

Loss of lead is a rarity for Cards' relief corps

ST. LOUIS -- The back end of the Cardinals' bullpen, usually so stingy when handed a lead, couldn't keep one for the first time all season on Wednesday.

The team's perfect record (26-0) when leading after seven innings was blemished when George Springer flipped a one-run deficit into a one-run lead for the Astros, who went on to take a 4-1 victory. Springer's home run came off Kevin Siegrist, who has, 29 appearances into the season, already matched his season high with five homers allowed.

Two have come over the last week, and both have left Siegrist to shoulder a loss.

"I expect to have a good inning there," Siegrist said afterward. "One bad pitch, and that wasn't the case."

Certainly, Siegrist would like to have back the curveball that Springer sent 399 feet. But the walk that preceded the homer was just as nagging, as Siegrist issued it after making a crisp pickoff throw to erase a runner for the second out of the frame.

Siegrist picks off Gomez

Siegrist had been showing a growing confidence in his curve, a pitch he developed this spring and had used with great success since. After some initial hesitancy with the pitch (he threw three in his first 18 appearances), he had flashed 15 over his last seven outings.

Before Wednesday, no opponent had gotten a hit off the pitch.

"Obviously, I left it up a little bit tonight, but it feels all right. It feels good," he said. "I was just trying to get it over for a strike and make a good pitch. I just left it up."

Behind Siegrist, closer Trevor Rosenthal continues to have troubles of his own. The discrepancy of results between save and non-save situations remains baffling. Although he has allowed one earned run in his 15 save opportunities, Rosenthal, after allowing a pair of runs in the ninth inning on Wednesday, has now issued nine in 10 non-save spots.

Consecutive singles to open the frame put Rosenthal in immediate trouble, and Carlos Gomez, previously 1-for-13 against him, snuck a two-run single through to pad Houston's lead. Opponents are now hitting .314 against Rosenthal in non-save situations.

The Cardinals had previously pointed to Rosenthal's inconsistent workload as a potential explanation for his frequent hiccups. But that can't be a fallback now. With Wednesday's appearance, he has pitched in seven of the team's last 11 games.

"He's got to get outs for us, and he knows that," manager Mike Matheny said. "Today was an opportunity to come in with another off-day tomorrow to continue to move in a good direction. We've seen a lot of good things, and this is just one of them that we're going to have to move past."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.