Wacha's short night puts bullpen in bind

Matheny lifts righty after 77 pitches through 3 innings

Wacha's short night puts bullpen in bind

ST. LOUIS -- In the first inning of Tuesday's game against the Dodgers, Michael Wacha struck out two batters in the top half and the Cardinals put up three runs in the bottom. After a frustrating Memorial Day loss in the series opener, it appeared things might be clicking for St. Louis.

But after a clean second inning, Wacha faltered and lasted only three innings, giving up five hits and four runs, the final of which was unearned on a throwing error by Paul DeJong and allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Cardinals never again held the lead en route to a 9-4 loss. Wacha's three walks set the tone for the day, as Cardinals pitchers struggled to throw strikes throughout the game.

"I think it was more [Wacha] just finding his right rhythm, and [usually] he does, especially against a team with so many lefties in the lineup," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's typically a team that he would have a lot of success with the changeup, you know it's just something didn't click where you saw those swings on the changeup in the beginning. They were taking good swings and having the hitter's counts quite often didn't help."

Dodgers get two on single, error

Left-hander Tyler Lyons entered in relief of Wacha, but after a strong fourth inning, he too had trouble finding the strike zone, hitting a batter and then walking two in a row -- the second forcing in a run to make it 5-3 -- while throwing 18 strikes in 38 pitches.

He was replaced by John Brebbia, who walked in another run. Three other Cardinals relievers entered the game, and the staff totaled eight walks and 11 strikeouts.

"A few of the guys in the bullpen did a nice job, put Brebbia in a tough spot," Matheny said. "Tyler's first inning was good, Brebbia pitched well. [Kevin] Siegrist and [Brett] Cecil both did, as well. That's a lot of work when we only get three innings and 77 pitches on the start."

The bullpen struggled to put Dodger hitters away, which led to long at-bats and high pitch counts, ultimately forcing Matheny to turn to five relievers.

"Just extremely big pitch counts, long at-bats that drive the pitch count up. And then you know the walks, they add to that as well and just too many free baserunners," Wacha said. "I don't think everyone's playing up to their capabilities. Just got to keep showing up to the field to play every day and go about your business the right way, and things will turn around."

Alaina Getzenberg 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.