Pair of four-run innings dampen Cardinals

Miller battles through six; Padres grab lead on grand slam

Pair of four-run innings dampen Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offense weathered the Padres' first four-run inning on Saturday night, matching it with their own and later taking the lead. They could not, however, come up with a second equalizer.

As storms neared Busch Stadium, reliever Kevin Siegrist served up a seventh-inning grand slam to Jedd Gyorko. The blast pushed the Padres ahead by three on the way to a 9-5 victory that was dragged out by a lengthy rain delay.

"I'd say from here on out, they're all going to be tough losses," said manager Mike Matheny, whose club dropped three games behind the division-leading Brewers but holds a one-game lead for the first National League Wild Card. "When we get some offensive production early on, it's hard to see that go away. We had two really rough innings and it made for a bad day."

Siegrist faced two more hitters after Gyorko before the umpires ushered everyone off the field due to lightning. One hour and 46 minutes later, the game resumed. The Cardinals went quietly once it did, finishing with one hit in the 3 1/3 innings covered by the Padres' bullpen.

Siegrist has had his share of difficulties in his three weeks since returning from the disabled list, but Matheny was limited in his relief options and therefore sent the lefty out to preserve a one-run lead in the seventh. Matheny hoped to get two innings out of Siegrist. He couldn't even get one.

A one-out infield hit sparked the Padres' rally, which was aided by a walk. Gyorko's third career grand slam was a line-drive shot to left on an 0-1 inside fastball from Siegrist.

"I guess I didn't get it in there enough," Siegrist said, "and he got his hands to it."

Gyorko, a Cardinals' nemesis over the past three weeks, drove in five on Saturday. Of his 41 season RBIs, 11 have come against the Cardinals. So have three of his eight home runs.

In nine appearances since returning from separate forearm and shoulder injuries, Siegrist has allowed multiple runs in four of his nine outings. It's a far cry from Siegrist's dominant rookie season in which he allowed two runs total in 45 appearances.

Both he and his manager insisted afterward that health is not an issue. Command, though, clearly is, and Siegrist's velocity has also not returned to 2013 figures.

Asked if the struggles are the byproduct of a recent two-month layoff, Siegrist shrugged.

"I guess, I don't know," he said. "I'm working to try to get back where I was. It's just not making quality pitches, that's what it comes down to. I don't have an answer right now."

"It's not working right right now," Matheny said. "He's had a few outings now where he's just not getting it done. That's tough."

Tough, too, was that Matheny was working with limited options. Usage concerns forced him to operate with a four-man bullpen. Pat Neshek, Sam Freeman and Seth Maness were unavailable.

As a result of Gyorko's big night, the Cardinals lost for the 10th time this season when scoring five or more runs. They briefly held a four-run lead until the Padres erased it while batting around against starter Shelby Miller in the third.

Miller, as he has at times this season, lost his mechanics during the frame and paid for it. The Padres scored all four runs with two outs, three on Jake Goebbert's bases-loaded triple. Miller admitted to being exhausted by the time he retired the pitcher to earn a respite in the dugout.

"It's kind of the game-changer at that point," Miller said of the third, the only one of his six innings in which he allowed any hits. "That's where the momentum changed. They got it right back when we had it all. It should have not happened."

The 38-pitch inning wiped out all the Cardinals' offense had done against Padres starter Jesse Hahn a half inning earlier when Jhonny Peralta, Oscar Taveras and Matt Carpenter delivered RBI doubles.

Matt Adams pushed the Cardinals back in front in the fifth with a run-scoring triple, his team-leading fifth three-base hit of the season. Matt Holliday set up the scoring opportunity with a two-out walk.

Miller handed that one-run lead to the bullpen by salvaging his start after the messy third inning. He faced the minimum on 36 pitches over the next three scoreless frames to give him a season-high 110-pitch outing. The blown save cost Miller a chance to push his win-loss record back to .500, but the finish gave him something to build on.

That was Matheny's message to the second-year starter as he gave him a fist bump to the chest as Miller's outing ended.

"To his credit, that was one of the best we've seen him gather himself and come back up there for the next two because we needed it," Matheny said. "At that point, we're still in the game, but obviously there is already a lot of damage done."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.