ST. LOUIS -- While they have yet to find a solution to their World Series offensive woes, there is one thing the Cardinals' batters can come to a conclusion on -- Boston's pitching has been tough.
"It's really good pitching," Matt Holliday said. "You get to the World Series and both teams are here because they have pretty good pitching, as part of the reason. [In the] postseason, it's tough to score runs."
"You have to give credit to the opposing pitcher," Carlos Beltran said. "It's not like we're [making] excuses. We know that we were a good team offensively this year, but we just haven't found the way to put it together."
After tossing 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 1, Jon Lester turned in an encore performance in Monday's Game 5, holding the Cards to one run on four hits and no walks while fanning seven in 7 2/3 innings.
The lone run against Lester was a homer from Holliday, but the Cardinals' offense continued to stall. In Game 5, it wasn't the squandered opportunities -- as was the case when St. Louis left 20 total runners on base in Games 3 and 4 -- it was the absence of them. The Cards stranded just two runners and advanced into scoring position just twice, never further than second.
"Unfortunately in both starts against Jon, we haven't been able to figure it out," said Matt Carpenter, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Monday. "... It's just one of those frustrating things. It's one of those things that's hard to swallow, but you just got to tip your cap to him. He pitched extremely well."
The Cardinals' offensive struggles aren't unique to the Fall Classic. The Redbirds are hitting .213 for the entire postseason. As their bats struggle and the pitching remains dominant, Carpenter admitted that the Cards' hitters can be guilty of swinging at the pitchers' pitches rather than waiting for the one they want.
"That can certainly happen. Any time you feel like your at-bat is getting dictated by him, that's never a good spot," Carpenter said. "I know myself, there's been times this postseason and this Series where that's been the case. Part of that is getting pitched to and them doing a good job, part of that is on yourself not being confident and in control of what you're doing."
Facing elimination for the first time since the National League Division Series, the Cardinals will travel to Boston for Game 6, where they will once again face a pitcher who was effective against them earlier in this Series. Though he was tagged with the loss, John Lackey allowed only five hits to the Cards in Game 2. Familiarity in facing him again could breed confidence for the St. Louis hitters, but if Monday was any indication, it may not play entirely in their favor.
"We just had that opportunity with Lester," Carpenter said. "You can't assume anything. We can just try to watch the film, see what they're doing and try to make adjustments on the fly.
"It's tough when guys make pitches. ... It's frustrating, and I hate [it] as a hitter and as a competitor. It's hard to say that, especially when these games are so meaningful. But when a guy's good, it's hard to hit."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less