Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  By STAN McNEAL  |  Last updated 9/13/13
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals picked a bad time to play a flat game. Of course, any time is a bad time for such a game when you're in a pennant race. But on a night when the Pirates began an 11-game homestand by winning their fourth straight game, the Cardinals were unable to get anything going with their bats, on the mound or in the field. As a result, despite winning the series against Milwaukee, that 1.5-game lead they had when the Pirates left town Sunday is gone. The teams are tied atop the NL Central with 16 games remaining for both teams. Right-hander Joe Kelly, the club's most consistent starter for the past month, was the main culprit for the off evening. If giving up two hits and a run in the first inning wasn't enough of a clue, his two throwing errors in the second left no doubt that this would not be his night. He made one mistake on an errant pickoff to first and another when he threw wide of second trying to force out Sean Halton on Tyler Thornburg's bunt. "Usually I make those plays," Kelly said. "I threw two balls in the can and that ultimately led to our loss." A little more offense would have helped, though. The Cardinals managed only six hits off the rookie Thornburg and three Brewers relievers and they put two men on base in an inning only twice. "We made too many mistakes," manager Mike Matheny said. "And when you can't get your offense going, it usually doesn't turn out too well." Losing for the first time on this homestand, the Cardinals didn't seem too bothered by the subpar effort. But the way the Pirates are playing, they can't afford to have very many -- if any -- more. Martinez impresses, again Recently turned 22-year-old Carlos Martinez provided a bright spot with two scoreless innings in relief of Kelly. Martinez gave up consecutive singles in his second inning but didn't walk a batter and struck out two. He also lit up the speed board at Busch Stadium, hitting 100 mph three times and reaching 99 mph numerous others. Though the Redbirds' rotation has enjoyed an impressive run in this homestand, don't rule out seeing Martinez start again this season. Lance Lynn earned another start with his strong showing Wednesday night but a rough outing his next time out and who knows. General manager John Mozeliak said the other day that he would not be opposed to having another rookie in the rotation that already includes two, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha. The way Martinez has been bounced around this season, going from the minors to the majors five times and from reliever to starter to reliever, you wonder what is in store for him in 2014. With no fewer than eight other viable candidates for the rotation, it will be difficult for everyone to get a decent audition in spring training. But if Martinez keeps throwing triple-digit fastballs, he'll pitch in St. Louis in some capacity, and likely without wearing out the highway between Memphis and Busch Stadium. Craig's chances for individual milestone have been booted Allen Craig's sprained left foot went back in a boot but general manager John Mozeliak says you should not be alarmed. "They just feel like he's still at a volatile state in the sense that as he's improving, they don't want him to have a setback by being in a tennis shoe or a running shoe," Mozeliak said. "So for the next week or so, he will be in a soft boot." The GM added that the club remains optimistic that Craig, injured Sept. 4, will return during the Cardinals' remaining 16 regular-season games. If all goes well in the boot, he likely would need at least another week before he could start playing again. In such a scenario, Craig would not return until the final week -- or weekend -- of the regular season. And, for Craig's sake, that would be a shame. Though he is becoming known as one of the NL's top run producers, Craig does not have a 100-RBI season. He seemed certain to reach the milestone until the injury but now he's stuck on 97. He collected 92 in 2012 when the start to his season was delayed because of off-season knee surgery and he was limited to 119 games. Looking at his numbers, you realize that Craig's 2012 might have hit even better than his 2013. He hit 22 homers last year, to 13 in 2013. He scored 76 runs last year even though he already has played in 15 more games this year. His average and OBP are better this year -- .315 to .307 and .373 to .354 but his OPS was .822 a year ago, .830 this year. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dwight Howard responds to those who think he's washed up

Report: Red Sox interested in Sonny Gray

Jermichael Finley opens up about lasting effects of injury

Lionel Messi has allegedly hid tens of millions of euros through his own charity

John McEnroe: Serena Williams would be No. 700 on men's tour

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Celtics could target Rudy Gay as backup plan

Ex-NFL RB Ahman Green arrested on suspicion of child abuse

Cam Newton throws, will be ‘100 percent’ for training camp

Timberwolves reportedly still trying to trade Ricky Rubio

Jaylen Brown looks like reason Celtics didn’t trade for Jimmy Butler

Myles Turner opens up about Paul George wanting to leave Pacers

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Disappearing Act Award for player who came up small

Getaway Day: Welcome back to the world, AL Central

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Disappearing Act Award for player who came up small

Getaway Day: Welcome back to the world, AL Central

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker