Giants hand Cardinals fifth straight loss

Well Cardinal fans, if you’re holding your breath for the Reds to lose and the Cards to win, you’re not reading this because you’ve officially passed out.

San Francisco Giants Aubrey Huff (R) is greeted at home plate by teammate Buster Posey after hitting a two run home run in the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 20, 2010.   UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals (65-54) had another disappointing night in front of the home crowd.

The Cards were dealt their fifth-straight loss (all at Busch Stadium), falling 6-3 to the San Francisco Giants (69-54), and dropping further behind in both playoff races.  BOX SCORE

It’s the Cardinals longest single-season home losing steak since 1999.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds (71-51) continue to beat down their competition.  Since Cincy was handed a dramatic three-game sweep by the Cardinals, they’ve rolled off seven straight wins sweeping the Marlins, D-Backs, and defeating the Dodgers Friday night 3-1. The Reds have averaged 6.1 runs per game, with a .303 batting average, and a 3.00 ERA while going 7-0.  St. Louis has gone an abysmal 1-5 in that same time-span. In a week, the Cards went from having a one-game lead to being down 4 1/2 games in the NL Central.

To make matters worse, St. Louis has fallen three games back of the NL wild-card leading Phillies.  With the victory, San Francisco is just one game off pace of Philadelphia.

Along with the losses, the frustration also seems to be mounting in St. Louis.  Manager Tony LaRussa was unhappy with the home-plate umpire, Gary Cederstorm.

LaRussa felt his team was basically robbed of a chance to win in the ninth saying, “We had a great chance in the ninth, and MLB can go ahead and fine [me], I don’t care, but there were several strikes a guy as good as Brian Wilson got, he doesn’t need. Who knows how that inning would have been? You know they are supposed to review that stuff and they are supposed to fine you if you say anything about it, but that is just not right.”

I don’t know if MLB can fine me for this, but it seemed Cederstorm had plans soon after the game, repeatedly calling questionable pitches strikes in the bottom half of the ninth to get the game over with. The Cards had Matt Holliday representing the tying run with two on before grounding out to short to end the game.  Holliday was barking at Cederstorm’s previous strike calls that dug the clean-up hitter in a 1-2 hole.

LaRussa’s rant continued, “I think it was three or four hitters, at least three hitters that changes counts around.  Strikeout on Felipe [Lopez], that’s not a strike.”

You don’t hear Tony LaRussa complain much about the umpires, but a five-game losing streak can have that kind of effect on a person one would think.  Complaining isn’t going to change or hide the fact the Cards aren’t hitting lately, but at least LaRussa’s showing some sort of life off the field.  We haven’t seen much from St. Louis on the field.

St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols enters the dugout to high fives after hitting his 31st home run of the season, a solo home run, in the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on August 17, 2010.  UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

That doesn’t apply to Albert Pujols, who continues to stay hot, hitting his 398th career homer Friday.  Pujols’ NL leading 32nd bomb of the season was a minor blemish on Giants starter Madison Bumgarner’s night.

Now tied for 49th on the all-time list, Pujols knows this team needs to turn it around now.

“There’s no tomorrow, we need to win games,” he said.

Contradicting Pujols’ statement, there is a tomorrow.  In game two, the Cards face 2009 Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum (11-7, 3.62 ERA) on Saturday night. (7:15 PM ET)

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