- 142 wins
- 110 wins
ST. LOUIS -- It was only a matter of time before Jaime Garcia ran into some bad luck at Busch Stadium.
Garcia, who has been dominant at home this season, lost his first game in St. Louis in seven starts, as the Cardinals dropped their second in a row to the Blue Jays, 6-3, on Saturday night.
The southpaw pitched well, but a five-run third inning -- and some untimely walks -- doomed his bid to remain undefeated in St. Louis.
Garcia got himself into early trouble in the third, walking the first two batters of the inning -- including Toronto starter Carlos Villanueva. It certainly wasn't the way Garcia wanted to start the inning, considering American League pitchers only bat when they're in National League parks during Interleague Play.
"The last thing you want to do is walk the pitcher," Garcia said. "Especially from an American League team -- their pitchers don't hit. I wanted him to hit the ball, swing the bat, put it in play -- and I didn't do it."
Garcia gave an intentional pass to slugger Jose Bautista to load the bases, before Adam Lind's sac fly scored Villanueva. Next, Daniel Descalso made a diving stop at third base on a sharply hit liner by J.P. Arencibia, but his throw sailed high and Lance Berkman couldn't get the out at first, which allowed Yunel Escobar to score. Berkman immediately reacted to the umpire's call, believing he beat Arencibia to the bag.
"I thought he was out," Berkman said. "It was a close play, and it just went their way."
The next batter, Juan Rivera, made the Cards pay for their mistake. Rivera took the second pitch he saw from Garcia, a hanging breaking ball, and drove it 407 feet into the left-field seats for a three-run homer that put the Cards in a 5-1 hole.
"Actually, it wasn't that bad of a pitch. But he put a good swing [on it], and that's it," Garcia said.
Rivera's sixth homer of the year broke the inning -- and the game -- open for Toronto. But it was the back-to-back walks that hurt Garcia the most.
"That was definitely what caused the whole big inning," Garcia said.
Garcia entered Saturday's game with a 4-0 mark at Busch, and a Major League-best 0.81 ERA at home. He lasted seven innings, giving up five runs (one earned) on five hits, while striking out four. The left-hander, though, still owns the Majors' lowest home ERA -- as it rose slightly to 0.88.
After his rough third inning, the left-hander retired nine of the final 11 batters he faced. Unfortunately, Toronto's pitching kept the Cards in check.
Villanueva started and went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He fanned three and walked one, and limited the Cards' scoring chances.
"It was another outstanding effort by Villanueva," said Toronto manager John Farrell. "He made big pitches to keep a big inning from happening. He battled through. He kept the game under control."
The Cardinals threatened in the first, after back-to-back singles to begin the game. But Matt Holliday hit into a double play, as Ryan Theriot scored on the play to get the Cards on the board first.
Holliday was ejected by home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson in the eighth for arguing balls and strikes, after he struck out looking against Blue Jays reliever Jon Rauch with two men on base.
It was Holliday's first ejection since the fourth inning on Sept. 9, 2010, at Atlanta.
"[Hudson] thought he argued way too far and too much. You're not supposed to argue balls and strikes," said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. "I think the catcher finessed a couple, and moved off the plate. The pitcher threw the ball to the middle, and he was off the plate and he got away with both of them. Big out, though."
The Cardinals still had an opportunity to close the gap after Holliday's departure, but Berkman grounded into a double play on the first offering he saw from Marc Rzepczynski.
Yadier Molina had an RBI single in the fourth to pull the Cards within three runs. Colby Rasmus came around to score on an error in the ninth, but the Cards couldn't get a big hit when they needed it most.
The Cards are now 3-11 in their last 14 games, and trail the first-place Brewers by two games in the National League Central.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.