Cards can't shake home woes in I-70 Series

Sloppy loss to Royals in finale extends skid to 7 at Busch Stadium

Cards can't shake home woes in I-70 Series

ST. LOUIS -- Still unable to shake the ragged play that has restrained them from gathering any sustained traction this season, the Cardinals ended June in a most unfamiliar spot.

Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Royals extended the Cardinals' home losing streak to seven, the franchise's longest since 1983. It also put a bowtie on the month, the first in which the Cards have posted a record below .500 since June 2012.

"It's all there, and it's just a matter of us continuing to work," manager Mike Matheny said. "When we have games that don't look like what we want them to look like, we can't buy into the fact that that's who we are because that's not. I know we have it in us."

The errors -- official or not -- piled up in the I-70 Series finale. The Cardinals committed three in the field, another on the bases and couldn't make anything of the six walks Royals starter Chris Young issued in his laborious four-inning start. The offense mustered three hits.

Merrifield scores on an error

St. Louis, which hasn't won at home since June 5, has scored 14 runs during this Busch Stadium skid, which began with sweeps by the Astros and Rangers. The results could have been drastically different, too, with a little crisper play. None of the Cards' 13 losses this month came by more than four runs. Seven were one-run defeats.

A club that didn't lose its 23rd home game last year until Sept. 7 lugs a 15-23 home record into July.

"It's surprising and it's disappointing," said Brandon Moss, who hit his 17th homer in Thursday's loss. "We know we have to play better at home. You don't see many teams that go to the playoffs that don't play well at home. You have to be a place where people don't want to play you at, and I think over the course of the season we'll look up and have a good record at home."

Explanations for the discrepancy between the home and road results were tough to generate inside the Cardinals' clubhouse.

"There is zero theory you're going to convince me of," Matheny said. "We're going to play 81 games here, and we're going to play well at home. It's just going to go in spurts where it doesn't look like you want it to. I haven't see us play a different brand of baseball here than anywhere else. Just the results have been real different."

The Cardinals have averaged 4.3 runs per game at Busch Stadium, compared to 6.0 on the road, where they enjoy a plus-74 run differential. The home-run rate is slightly better on the road (1.5 to 1.2), as is the staff ERA (3.85 to 4.06).

This would be an opportune time for the Cards to reverse that trend. They've got another seven home games leading into the All-Star break and then open the second half with a 10-game homestand. St. Louis hasn't lost eight straight at home since 1958.

"I don't think we're working uphill, I just think we're trying to find our groove and we just haven't found it yet," said losing starter Mike Leake. "Do we have mistakes? Mental errors? Absolutely. But we're living through it. It's not like we're hiding it. It's just a matter of fixing them and working at them and just getting better."

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.