Saunders unable to avoid big hits by Cardinals

Saunders unable to avoid big hits by Cardinals

Saunders unable to avoid big hits by Cardinals
ST. LOUIS -- Sure there's still time for the D-backs to make a run at a postseason berth.

But with another loss -- this one by a 5-2 margin to the Cardinals on Wednesday night -- the D-backs continue to dig themselves a deeper hole.

The D-backs have dropped four of their past five games and trail the first-place Dodgers by 6 1/2 games in the National League West.

It was the second straight night the D-backs pulled to within a run of the Cardinals before a deflating inning saddled them with a loss.

"That's definitely frustrating," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Obviously, you're trying to get back in the game, stop them and then get on top."

The D-backs started on top when Paul Goldschmidt hit his 17th homer of the year, a 456-foot blast to left off Adam Wainwright. It was the longest homer hit by an opponent in new Busch Stadium.

Meanwhile, D-backs starter Joe Saunders handled the tough St. Louis lineup through the first three innings.

In the fourth, though, the Cardinals played a little long ball of their own as David Freese hit a 2-0 pitch for a two-run homer that gave his team a 2-1 lead.

"I had an approach and it worked out," Freese said. "I'll be honest, it felt good, for sure."

An inning later, Allen Craig added a two-out homer to put St. Louis up 3-1.

"The pitch to Freese I pulled across the plate and he put a good swing on the ball, and then the pitch to Craig I just tried to go away and left it down, down middle and he put a good swing on it," Saunders said. "I missed my location and they put good swings on the ball."

As they did Tuesday, the D-backs managed to pull to within 3-2 when Aaron Hill scored from third base on Goldschmidt's double-play grounder.

It looked like Saunders was going to keep the deficit at one run when he started the sixth by retiring the Nos. 4 and 5 hitters in the Cardinals order -- Carlos Beltran and Freese.

However, Daniel Descalso and Tony Cruz followed with singles and Furcal delivered the dagger with a triple to the corner in right that scored both runners and gave St. Louis a 5-2 lead.

It turned out that the way Saunders finished the fifth inning ended up costing him in the sixth.

With two out in the fifth, Matt Holliday hit a hard shot back up the middle and Saunders reached out and deflected the ball with his bare hand.

"I just couldn't let that ball go through the middle," Saunders said. "I had to put a hand on it and he doesn't hit balls very softly."

Second baseman Hill fielded the deflection and threw Holliday out at first to end the inning and after sitting on the bench for the top of the sixth and watching his team pull to within a run, Saunders decided to give it a try in the sixth.

"I got the first two guys out, but the velocity wasn't there and it was kind of tough to grip the ball," Saunders said. "When it hit, it was just straight numb right away, and I was just trying to see how it was gripping the ball to go back out there and just tried to do the best I could to get some outs. The bullpen needed me, the team needed me, and I just tried to do the best I could. Hindsight, I probably shouldn't have gone back out there, but my stubborn butt won't come out of the game."

Wainwright (11-10) went six innings to earn the win.

"He's good," D-backs third baseman Chris Johnson said of Wainwright. "He doesn't give in. He's pitching to all the corners. He's keeping you off balance. He's doing all the things that a good pitcher does. He was on his game tonight. Goldy got a piece of him a little bit, but he kind of got the best of the rest of us. He was tough. He was painting the corners. He was using his off-speed [pitches] for strikes and going out of the zone."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.