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Carp solid, but Cards drop fifth straight

Carp solid in Cards' fifth straight loss

MIAMI -- The Cardinals have taken their fair share of blows throughout a frustrating June.

The latest came courtesy of Jeremy Hermida -- in walk-off fashion.

In a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, Jason Motte checked in and delivered his second pitch near Hermida's head. The next one was blasted out to right field to give the Marlins' outfielder his first game-ending homer and hand the Cardinals their season-high fifth straight loss, 4-3, in front of 13,103 at Land Shark Stadium.

"I just left a slider out over the middle of the plate, and you can't do that here," Motte said.

"You can't let it linger. If you do, it's going to happen again. Have a short-term memory and hope to come out here [Wednesday] and get some outs, put up zero."

With the way the Cardinals have been swinging the bats lately, zero is probably what it's going to take.

St. Louis -- starting a stretch of playing 13 of 16 games on the road -- is now 3-8 over its past 11 games and hasn't won a contest while allowing more than two runs since May 10.

But considering his club was facing off against Marlins ace Josh Johnson, manager Tony La Russa said he wasn't too disappointed.

"I thought our offense was the best it's been in a while," La Russa said. "We just came up short."

Brendan Ryan especially came up short in the top of the ninth.

With two outs and struggling Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom on the hill, the Cardinals put runners on the corners with back-to-back singles by Tyler Greene and Nick Stavinoha. But Ryan just missed an 0-1 fastball, as he flied out to deep left field and wrapped his hands around his head in disbelief after rounding first base.

"We had an opportunity to win the game," Ryan said. "I don't think [Lindstrom] quite executed that where he wanted and left it a little over the plate. I almost put my best swing on it, but I just missed it."

And the Cardinals just missed ending an ugly losing streak.

While going 2-6 on its recent eight-game homestand, St. Louis was outscored by 27 and averaged fewer than three runs per game. On Tuesday, the Cardinals outhit the Marlins by two, but they left six runners on base and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

"It's frustrating because of the loss, and it's frustrating because we've been losing," Ryan said. "We're just in that part of the cycle right now. Everything goes in cycles. Hopefully we're at the end of this cycle, and we'll turn it around [on Wednesday]."

Tuesday's Cardinals-Marlins game was billed as a matchup of titans, with Chris Carpenter and Johnson going toe-to-toe.

But neither of them won the battle.

The Cardinals did their only damage off Johnson in the third, when Chris Duncan hit an RBI single and Rick Ankiel brought in two with a two-out double on a line drive that bounced off Hermida's glove as he approached the right-field wall.

Carpenter, who came in with a 0.71 ERA -- a franchise low for a pitcher's first six starts of the season -- surrendered three runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

"It's just one of those nights," said Carpenter, who finished throwing 89 pitches (59 strikes). "I made some good pitches and made some bad pitches. I just didn't pitch well enough to win."

Down 3-0, the Marlins came back in the bottom of the third, when they made it a one-run game on a two-run double by Emilio Bonifacio.

In the fifth, Bonifacio used his blazing speed to beat out a two-out infield single on a grounder off the glove of Carpenter to score Cody Ross and tie the game at 3.

To Ryan, who was standing behind Carpenter waiting to make a play, that single was just further evidence that struggling teams don't usually get bounces in their favor.

"It's just not falling our way," Ryan said. "Bonifacio gets an infield single there, and who knows, if [Carpenter] doesn't go for that ball, maybe I make a play on it. It's just not rolling our way right now."

The Marlins had a scary moment in the top of the sixth.

Leading off the inning, Albert Pujols' backswing nailed catcher John Baker in the left eye -- which appeared to be drawing blood. After acknowledging to a concerned Pujols that he was OK, Baker walked off on his own power and left with what was called a laceration over the eye.

Baker got six stitches and will probably get Wednesday off as a precaution, but he's not expected to land on the disabled list.

Still, the incident seemed to bother Pujols, who struck out during that at-bat and popped out to first his next time up.

The Cardinals' slugger has mustered just one hit in his past 19 at-bats.

"What happened there was just a fluke," La Russa said. "It was a backup slider, and [Pujols] went backwards instead of forward. I went out and told him, 'It was a pure accident.' But he still feels [bad]."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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