ST. LOUIS -- When you play the outfield, inning after inning can go by without a ball hit in your direction, so D-backs outfielder Jarrod Dyson works to stay on his toes.
"I'm always anticipating the ball coming to me,” he said. “Outfield can be boring. If you're sitting out there in la-la land and not expecting it to be hit to you, it can catch you off guard real quick. I'm always anticipating the ball coming to me. I want the ball."
So, when Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt walked to the plate with a runner on first and no outs in the third inning on Saturday night at Busch Stadium, Dyson was ready for what came next.
Goldschmidt launched a drive to left-center that sent Dyson back to the wall. Dyson timed his jump perfectly and reached up to snag the ball, robbing the former D-backs star of what looked like a home run.
“I kind of anticipated him hitting that gap,” Dyson said. “I didn't anticipate me robbing a homer or nothing like that. But I'll take it. It was big for us. We needed it."
Unfortunately for the D-backs, it was one outstanding play on a night the defense and situational hitting let them down in a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals that ended their four-game winning streak.
The D-backs committed three errors in the game, which led to three unearned runs.
“Definitely hurt us,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “When you put it all together, there were a bunch of unearned runs, and we don’t play that kind of baseball here.”
Usually that’s true. The D-backs typically play solid fundamental baseball. It’s one reason they have hung on in the National League Wild Card race.
But they’re not a team that can play sloppy baseball and expect to get away with it.
The miscues started in the first, when third baseman Jake Lamb couldn’t handle a two-out grounder by Goldschmidt. Instead of the inning being over, the Cardinals had runners on first and second, and Tyler O’Neill delivered a bloop double to left to score a pair of runs.
Right-hander Merrill Kelly (7-9) was the victim of those unearned runs, but he would wind up with some self-inflicted wounds later.
In the top of the second, Kelly came to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out. The D-backs had already scored one run in the frame as Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson struggled to find the strike zone, hitting a batter and walking a pair.
Kelly, though, swung at the first pitch and bounced into a force at home. The D-backs would not score another run in the frame.
After the game, Lovullo said the take sign was on, but he took the blame for not making sure Kelly understood.
“We were trying to make [Hudson] throw the ball a little bit, and [Kelly] maybe made a mistake and got a little too aggressive early in the count and swung at the first pitch,” Lovullo said.
Then in the bottom of the third, Paul DeJong squibbed a grounder that started in foul territory before spinning fair down the first-base line. Kelly went to pick up the ball and couldn’t come up with it, allowing DeJong to reach first on the error.
One out later, it was O’Neill again who came up big, launching a two-run homer that pushed the St. Louis lead to 4-1.
“It was a super spinny ball,” Kelly said of DeJong’s cue shot. “At first, it looked like it was going to go foul, then kind of fair and then foul.
“I think the fact that it came back fair, I got a little excited and got a little ahead of myself. I was concentrating on the ball and couldn’t really tell where [DeJong] was, so I kind of wanted to scoop it and try to tag him as fast as I could. I kind of got a little ahead of myself. It just kind of flew out of my glove.”
It was that kind of night for the D-backs.