PITTSBURGH -- This time, the rookie relievers did not come through for the Cardinals. Seth Maness didn't induce the double play, lefty Kevin Siegrist didn't retire the lefty hitter like he usually does, and of the three batters Carlos Martinez faced, two ended up scoring.
Their runs made the difference in the 5-3 loss to the Pirates on Sunday afternoon that put the Cardinals one loss from the end of their season.
While the rooks didn't deliver, don't say they succumbed to playoff pressure or wilted in front of the madhouse at PNC Park. It was more like they turned in a B performance instead of an A. In a tight Game 3, that was enough to make the difference. Consider how close they came:
Maness entered with one out, the bases loaded and the score tied, and he retired both batters he faced. But instead of coaxing a grounder that could have ended the inning, he left a fastball up just enough for Russell Martin to loft it to center field for a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
"I was trying ...