LOS ANGELES -- Though the Cardinals entered Sunday still with a shot at a series split in Los Angeles, a chance to finish the road trip with several more wins was missed largely because of the club's inability to execute fundamentals.
On the defensive side, the club committed six errors in the first six games of the trip. The little mistakes on offense, though, have been even more glaring. An inability to execute a sacrifice bunt has been a recurring issue, and it occurred twice more in Saturday's 4-3 loss.
Situational hitting -- particularly advancing a runner from second with no outs or driving home a runner from third with less than two down -- has been missing, too. No more was that evident than on Wednesday, when the potential tying run reached third with one out and never made it home in the ninth.
Aside from an 11-3 loss in San Diego on Monday, the Cardinals' other four losses on the road trip have come by a combined seven runs. Some of those surely would have turned in St. Louis' favor had fundamentals been better executed, and manager Mike Matheny was not shy in expressing his disappointment in that area on Sunday.
"I think it's a great reminder of no matter how strong an offensive club you are, you have to do the little things," Matheny said. "How many times have we talked this season about missed opportunities and not doing the little things? Yesterday, that was really the most frustrating part of that game -- the little things. Not getting the bunts down, not getting guys over, not making the routine plays.
"I don't care how good an offensive team you have, if you're not doing those things, it's going to bite you."
Matheny has had his club increase its pregame bunting work and incorporate more situational hitting during batting practice.
"It is a hard game, and I understand that," Matheny said. "And sometimes no matter how much work we do, it's a different animal doing it between the lines when the heat is turned out. We're still trying to figure out how to make it happen."