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Friday, June 27, 2008

Rain puts more of a damper on loss

Following lengthy delay, McClellan allows game-winner
DETROIT -- The Cardinals tied a club record and likely at least threatened another on Wednesday night, but neither was the type you want to commemorate. St. Louis relievers equaled an all-time franchise high with two blown saves on the night, and the Cardinals let a total of four leads get away en route to an 8-7 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Gary Sheffield's ninth-inning RBI single off Kyle McClellan ended the marathon game, sending the Cardinals to a frustrating defeat on Wednesday night -- or, more accurately, Thursday morning. The game didn't finish until nearly 1 a.m. local time.

Clete Thomas doubled to right field to open the ninth against McClellan, who had surrendered a game-tying single one inning earlier. The next batter, Sheffield, lined a 3-2 pitch into center field to end the game. McClellan fell behind Thomas, 3-0, before working a 3-2 count, and was behind Sheffield, 3-1 before getting to a full count.

"You can't fall behind hitters in that situation," said McClellan. "Then you've got to make pitches after that. You've got to let them put the ball in play. It's tough to pitch from behind. I got back to 3-2 and it was kind of the same thing. It's tough to pitch around leadoff doubles."

Rick Ankiel hit a pair of homers and Skip Schumaker also went deep, but time and again the Cardinals could not make a lead stick. They were up 2-0, 4-2, 6-5 and 7-6, but every time, Detroit came back to tie or lead.

Kyle Lohse was hit hard and often over four innings, as he saw a six-start winning streak come to an end. Lohse allowed five runs on 11 hits, four of them for extra bases. Lohse, long of the Minnesota Twins, has a 5.95 lifetime ERA against the Tigers.

"I was all over the place tonight," Lohse said. "I was leaving a lot of balls out over the middle. They were down a lot of times, but you can't throw it down the middle and miss the corners. I never got anything going. It seemed like I was constantly pitching from behind and with guys on base. It makes for a long night. I almost got out of it a couple times, but bottom line, I just didn't make good enough pitches."

Chris Perez tossed two shutout innings, but the Tigers rallied repeatedly against the remainder of the St. Louis bullpen.

Jason Isringhausen allowed a run on a bases-loaded double play in the seventh, letting a 6-5 lead get away. After Aaron Miles' RBI single delivered a 7-6 advantage in the eighth, Magglio Ordonez singled off McClellan to tie it once again. The run was charged to Randy Flores, who had allowed the leadoff man to reach base.

Though the visitors scored seven runs, they still left plenty on the table. St. Louis went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left the bases loaded in a pivotal top of the seventh.

A game that was plenty lengthy without help from Mother Nature nonetheless got some help. Play was stopped for two hours and 25 minutes in the fifth inning due to heavy rain in downtown Detroit.

"We had a chance to get the runner from third a couple times and didn't do it, no doubt about it," manager Tony La Russa said. "We also made some mistakes. Lohse threw a ball [numbers-high] for a three-run homer. We did good things, and we made mistakes -- exactly the way the Tigers played."

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