Weak NL Central allows swept Cards to hold onto first

12:37 PM, May 21, 2012   |    comments
St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal (15) hits a two run RBI single in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
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  • (The Cardinal Nation Show) -- The only good thing about the Cardinals' 1-4 trip is they returned home still in first place in the National League Central Division, albeit only a half game ahead of Cincinnati.

    The 1-4 trip followed a 1-4 homestand, giving the Cardinals eight losses in their last 10 games. In three of their four losses on the trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, they scored five runs, which would have been enough to win earlier in the season. But the bullpen let them down Sunday in a 6-5 loss at Los Angeles.

    Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski struck out the only really dangerous hitter in the injury-riddled Dodgers lineup when he fanned right fielder Andre Ethier with two on in the seventh inning. That was the second out. Rzepczynski had only to get St. Louisan Scott Van Slyke, a minor league call-up who was pinch hitting.

    After falling behind 3-0, Rzpczynski laid in a changeup. Van Slyke had the green light from manager Don Mattingly and the son of former star outfielder Andy Van Slyke, popped his first big-league home run, a three-run shot, to left.

    "My plan was to go with sinkers away early and see if he could hit a ground ball," Rzepczynski said. "Then I threw a 3-0 changeup, thinking he'd be a little bit out in front of it, I just left it up a little bit up, and it was right in his wheelhouse."

    The Cardinals ran themselves out of two innings although television replays indicated catcher Yadier Molina was safe in the sixth inning after trying to advance on a bloop hit by first baseman Matt Adams.

    Adams' performance in his first major-league game was notable. He had two singles in four at-bats as he replaced injured first baseman Lance Berkman.

    "He's a pretty mature hitter for his age and experience," manager Mike Matheny said of the 23-year-old Adams. "He has a short, powerful swing and the ability to stay within himself and not try to do too much. He has the ability to go to both fields. Power is a rare commodity and he's got some. Defensively, he does a nice job, too."

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