Martinez is solid, but Cards' bullpen struggles

Relievers yield go-ahead runs in 8th, 10th and 12th in loss to Royals

Martinez is solid, but Cards' bullpen struggles

ST. LOUIS -- If one thing is clear after the Cardinals' 3-2 loss to the Royals in 12 innings on Wednesday night, it's that the bullpen situation remains murky.

A scoreless game through six innings didn't provide the bullpen a similar cushion it had worked with in previous contests without Trevor Rosenthal in the closer's role. On Sunday, the Cardinals had a five-run lead on the Mariners, and a four-run advantage on the Royals on Tuesday was plenty to notch a victory.

On Wednesday, manager Mike Matheny wanted to limit Carlos Martinez's pitch count after throwing over 100 pitches in six consecutive starts. Matheny opted to go with Kevin Siegrist against the portion of the Royals lineup which leaned heavy with left-handed bats even though righties had a lower OPS against him (.603) than lefties (.735).

"We're going to have to use him in those situations, especially when we push [Seung Hwan] Oh back to where he was a guy [before] that we would use in a left-handed strong lineup," Matheny said. "But Siegrist is going to have to improve those pitches, like he is, to where he can be a guy who can come in the middle of a big inning."

Jonathan Broxton, who hadn't given up a run in his previous 13 appearances, gave up two hits and a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to break the stalemate after Siegrist got out of the seventh unscathed.

Escobar's sac fly

Oh would have taken the ninth-inning duty on Wednesday if the situation had called for it, but with the Cardinals trailing, 1-0, Matt Bowman drew the assignment and pitched a scoreless inning. A Rule 5 Draft pick, Bowman could see more late-inning assignments as well.

"I know I'm not closing so I'm ready to go in at any point," Bowman said. "Whenever they call down and say they want me in the game, I throw. I'll throw until they say, 'OK, we've seen enough,' but it's all completely new to me. When I throw is irrelevant."

The plan to get Rosenthal more work in low-stress situations didn't hold much weight either. He entered with the game tied at 2 in the 11th inning, giving up two hits and facing five batters without yielding a run before Seth Maness took the loss.

"Trevor is going to work his way back into all these conversations, too," Matheny said. "Today he was terrific. That was a very positive for Trevor."

The Cardinals still have work to do in solving the bullpen puzzle and Martinez remains one of the biggest victims of its struggles. He got his third consecutive no-decision on Wednesday after giving up one just run his last 20 innings.

"There are situations that happen in the game and while we fought to the end, I got six innings" Martinez said. "The bullpen tried as much as it could."

Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.