ST. LOUIS -- One night removed from an offensive explosion with five home runs, a two-run deficit with six innings to play seemed reasonably surmountable for the Cardinals. They had their opportunities in a 2-1 loss to the Reds on Wednesday night, but the offense couldn't convert when potential runs
ST. LOUIS -- One night removed from an offensive explosion with five home runs, a two-run deficit with six innings to play seemed reasonably surmountable for the Cardinals. They had their opportunities in a 2-1 loss to the Reds on Wednesday night, but the offense couldn't convert when potential runs were almost gift-wrapped for them.
The Cardinals went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, capped off by Jedd Gyorko's groundout to third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to leave Kolten Wong stranded after a leadoff triple. Greg Garcia popped out to short left field one batter earlier.
"I didn't do my job," Garcia said. "I let my team down and you can't do that right now."
• Wild Card standings | Tiebreaker scenarios
The Cardinals, who have four games left in the regular season, remain one game behind San Francisco in the National League Wild Card race. The Mets lead St. Louis by 2 1/2 games for the top Wild Card spot.
"You're going to have times when you don't get it done," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's all there is to it. There are other times when it just comes in bunches, like [Tuesday], and it seems like we're putting together the right kind of at-bats at the right time and when we need the timely hits we're getting them. At other times, it doesn't come as easy. Tonight was one of those times. You had guys making big pitches in big situations, and we couldn't finish it off."
Stephen Piscotty singled then advanced to second on a wild pitch with one out in the fourth inning before Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Moss lined out to end the threat. Moss also struck out with runners on second and third to end the sixth inning.
"It's tough," Garcia said. "If you're not going good offensively, it's never fun. Especially in big spots in big games like that, you want to come through for your team because you've worked so hard to get to this point and you feel like you let the team down."
It only got worse for the Cardinals, who had another chance in the eighth when Matt Carpenter walked and Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch with one out. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch before Piscotty struck out and Peralta grounded out to third base.
"I think where we are in the season and the fact that we had three different times with guys on third base and less than two outs, it makes it stand out a little bit more," Matheny said.
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.