ST. LOUIS -- Usage concerns prompted manager Mike Matheny to rule Trevor Rosenthal unavailable out of the 'pen on Friday, which created a trickle-down effect of handing a save situation to Pat Neshek. Neshek did close a 4-2 win over the Padres, but not before allowing San Diego to send the tying run to the plate in an inning that opened with a three-run Cardinals lead.
Rosenthal had pitched in the team's last two games, and while Matheny has been unhesitant to send Rosenthal to the mound on three consecutive days, Thursday's laborious outing for the closer altered the circumstances this time around.
"That was a lot of pitches, a lot of meaningful pitches," Matheny said of Rosenthal's adventurous ninth inning on Thursday. "That was 24 pitches that felt like 64… for all of us."
Before the game, Matheny told Neshek -- who has four saves on the season, including two in his last four appearances -- to be ready for a save situation in Rosenthal's absence. Neshek answered the call, though he then admitted afterward that he, like Rosenthal, is at the point of needing additional rest.
"Just being up every night, you kind of hope the team will score eight or 10 runs one of these days and give the long guys some work," Neshek said. "I was kind of running on fumes."
Neshek added that his arm had been a "little achy" on Thursday, though Matheny had him warm up late in that game when Rosenthal got into a mess. Neshek had also pitched in Miami on Wednesday and had a rare two-inning appearance last Sunday.
The Cardinals' propensity for close games -- 45 of the Cardinals' 65 wins have been decided by three or fewer runs -- has led to a heavy reliance on the team's late-inning relief duo.
"That's what me and Trevor talk about," Neshek said. "We sit down there and go, 'Man, we just need a mental day.' It seems like every game, you're real in-tune watching every inning. You kind of like those games where you can just sit down there and enjoy the game. Man, I feel like since the All-Star break, there has only been a couple [like that]. There really hasn't been too much time to relax and enjoy a victory."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.