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Bullpen roughed up in series-opening loss

Cards' bats held in check; relievers allow six runs in four innings
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- While loosely outlining potential Trade Deadline pursuits and priorities for his club on Friday, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak also acknowledged the fluidity surrounding it all. Before he can determine what the organization most needs, Mozeliak hopes to better learn what the Cardinals are.

How the Cardinals close out the month and whether their bullpen can stabilize by getting healthy will help to define where the organization goes from here. But that 'pen was more shaky than steady on Friday, and as a result, things capsized for the Cardinals in a 9-1 loss to the Reds. The Cards have now dropped a season-high five straight games at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- While loosely outlining potential Trade Deadline pursuits and priorities for his club on Friday, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak also acknowledged the fluidity surrounding it all. Before he can determine what the organization most needs, Mozeliak hopes to better learn what the Cardinals are.

How the Cardinals close out the month and whether their bullpen can stabilize by getting healthy will help to define where the organization goes from here. But that 'pen was more shaky than steady on Friday, and as a result, things capsized for the Cardinals in a 9-1 loss to the Reds. The Cards have now dropped a season-high five straight games at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

Back home to close out the first half, the Cardinals found a much more formidable Cincinnati club than the one they beat nine times in 10 tries earlier this year. The Reds jumped on starter Carlos Martinez for two first-inning runs and then piled on against a bullpen that had nine available relievers.

Those included Luke Gregerson and Tyler Lyons, both of whom had been activated from the disabled list earlier in the day. Hopeful that adding a pair of experienced arms back into the 'pen would lessen the need to look for outside help, the Cardinals walked away Friday still needing to see more.

"I think it's time to figure out," manager Mike Matheny said, "how we can have them as a specific piece in that puzzle."

Video: CIN@STL: Matheny on Martinez, offense in the 9-1 loss

Gregerson, who relieved Martinez to start the sixth with the Reds leading, 3-1, allowed two of the four batters he faced to reach. Lyons helped him out the jam with a strikeout of Scooter Gennett, but was then chased himself an inning later when the Reds struck with consecutive one-out hits.

Video: CIN@STL: Lyons whiffs Gennett to strand a pair in 6th

"I felt good physically," said Lyons, who had been sidelined by a left elbow strain for the last five weeks. "I thought I made some pretty good pitches. It didn't really work out very well."

"Positives and negatives," Gregerson added of his night. "Negatives: not throwing strikes. Positives, well, it wasn't because I was throwing the ball outside the zone on purpose. It was just moving a lot."

A pinch-hit blast by Dilson Herrera -- his first big league home run since 2015 -- off Sam Tuivailala later in the frame accelerated the unraveling for a bullpen that ranks in the bottom-third of the National League with a 4.35 ERA.

Video: CIN@STL: Martinez retires Barnhart to escape a jam

After averaging six runs per game in their first 10 games against the Reds this year, the Cardinals didn't tally a hit after the second inning on Friday. A revitalized Matt Harvey held St. Louis to one run in his five-inning start. Since scoring 14 runs in a win on Tuesday, the Cardinals have plated one run in 18 innings.

"We know that you're going to have games that don't look the way you want to, and we know we're going to go through a run where we're going to play really good baseball on a consistent basis," said Matheny, whose club has been held to one run or fewer 15 times this year. "Overall, you start to see some positives, but we [saw] enough negatives that put us into a hole today that we couldn't work our ways out of."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Before the offensive opportunities dried up, the Cardinals had a chance to snatch back the two runs Martinez had allowed in the first. After an RBI single by Yadier Molina, Jedd Gyorko stepped in and drove a pitch from Harvey 381 feet. The ball died just shy of the right-field wall, however, and Jesse Winker made the inning-ending catch. The Cardinals would take just two more at-bats with a runner in scoring position the rest of the night.

HE SAID IT
"Honestly, anytime I hit the ball, and hit it in his direction, I don't feel good about it. That's the third time in my career, where, two for-sure homers and one I thought was a homer, that he made a play on. That ball I hit in the gap in the first inning was a double, 90 percent of the time. He's just a great defender, I wish he played second base. You've got to tip your hat to him." -- Matt Carpenter, on being robbed of a seventh-inning homer by center fielder Billy Hamilton

UP NEXT
Coming off his shortest start of the year, Jack Flaherty will return to the mound in Saturday's 3:10 p.m. CT game against the Reds. Flaherty lasted 2 1/3 innings in his last start against San Francisco and is winless in his last five outings. Opposing him will be right-hander Luis Castillo, who has a 5.71 career ERA against the Cardinals.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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