ST. LOUIS (AP) - Joe Saunders has been reliable for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The lefty said his own stubbornness was partially to blame for a 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
He gave up two insurance runs in the sixth inning while pitching with a bruised and swollen left thumb after deflecting Matt Holliday's comebacker for the final out of the fifth.
``Hindsight, I probably shouldn't have gone back out there,' Saunders said. ``I won't come out of the game. I just didn't have my best stuff there in the sixth. I tried to pitch through it.'
Hindsight, he'd have been fine if Holliday's grounder went through for a hit.
``I just couldn't let that ball go through the middle. I had to put a hand on it,' Saunders said. ``He doesn't hit balls very softly.'
Saunders (6-9) gave up five runs, the first time in 11 road starts this season that he gave up more than three earned runs. He entered with a 2.49 road ERA, fourth-best in the league.
Manager Kirk Gibson said that Saunders' biggest problem was falling behind hitters, noting that the Cardinals got homers from David Freese and Allen Craig plus a two-run triple by Rafael Furcal after Saunders had to come in with a fastball.
``The pitch to Freese pulled across the plate and he put a good swing on the ball,' Saunders said. ``Then the pitch to Craig, I tried to go away and left it down the middle.'
Saunders allowed six runs in his last start against the Cardinals on May 7 at Arizona. The five runs allowed were the most against him since the Giants scored six on May 13.
St. Louis homered twice for the second straight game and will go for a sweep of the three-game series behind 12-game winner Kyle Lohse on Thursday night.
The Cardinals are 5-0 against the Diamondbacks this year and have won seven straight dating to last year.
``They're a quality team, they're quality hitters,' Saunders said. ``They make every out count and they don't give any at_bats away. Whatever we do, we just can't catch a break against these guys.'
Adam Wainwright (11-10), who was 0-3 in April before starting to regain his form, pitched six innings for the win. He's 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA in his past five starts.
Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt hit a homer estimated at 456 feet, longest by an opposing player at seven-year-old Busch Stadium, in the fourth.
Wainwright took a peek before asking for another ball.
``I went `Whoa, that's way out!'' Wainwright said. ``I literally said that out loud because he just mashed it.'
Goldschmidt's first homer in nine games came on a drive that soared over the visitor's bullpen in left.
The distance of the homer is the fourth longest overall at Busch, and is 13 feet shy of Holliday's stadium-record homer off the Cubs' Ryan Dempster on July 20.
The Diamondbacks (58-59) have lost eight of 11 and dropped below .500 for the first time since they were 49-50 on July 26.
``It's been frustrating,' Chris Johnson said after going 0 for 3. ``We've played some games we could have won and we're not taking advantage of that right now.
``We just need to relax, stay calm and I think we'll be all right.'
Freese ended a 0-for-20 slump with his 16th homer after Carlos Beltran doubled with two outs in the fourth to put the Cardinals up 2-1.
Craig hit his 18th to right-center in the fifth and the Cardinals got three straight hits from the bottom of the order capped by Furcal's liner into the right-field corner in the sixth.
Furcal was moved to the bottom of the lineup last week while battling back issues and a slump. He also doubled in the third for his first mulitihit game since July 24.
Edward Mujica and Mitchell Boggs each worked a scoreless inning. Jason Motte finished for his 27th save in 31 chances.
NOTES: Cardinals C Yadier Molina was out with mid-back tightness and thought prior to the game that he might miss a few games. ... Saunders is 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 17 career starts against the NL Central, including 2-3 this year. ... Arizona is 3-44 when scoring three or fewer runs. ... Lohse (12-2, 2.72) has won six straight decisions over nine starts. Trevor Cahill (9-10) seeks his 50th career victory for Arizona. ... Miguel Montero singled his first two trips and is batting .369 (24 for 65) his past 19 games against the Cardinals.
The Associated Press News Service
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