"It's hard to say you feel too positive when you had higher hopes than this," manager Don Mattingly said. "This game is kind of really a pretty good synopsis of our season. We've scored pretty well. We've swung the bats pretty good, with our lineup. We've had up and down pitching in different areas. This is a pretty good picture right here."
The Cardinals pounced on Jeff Locke, scoring four times in the first inning. The lefty threw 34 pitches in the frame, and the first four batters reached on hits.
But it was the third inning where everything unraveled, as Locke was tagged for seven runs and didn't make it through the inning. His line was 11 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings, matching Ricky Nolasco (Aug. 11, 2011, at Colorado) for the most earned runs ever allowed by a Marlins pitcher.
"Right from the get-go, they did all the damage they really needed to do in the first inning," Locke said. "I had a quick second. I couldn't get out of the third, everything you guys saw, I saw, too. There's no rhyme or reason or answer I can give you that you guys probably couldn't solve."
The Marlins have now lost three of four on the road trip and fell to 36-45.
For the second time in three games, a starter didn't work more than 2 2/3 innings. At Milwaukee on Saturday in an 8-4 loss, Tom Koehler gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings.
The ERA for the Marlins' starters rose to 5.05, and the total number of innings is now 412, second fewest in the Majors.
"The starters have got to do a good job off the mound, and everybody has to come in and pitch well out of the bullpen," Locke said. "It's a group effort every single night. A game like today, it's a non-competitive game. The game is over before it starts."
The encouraging sign is the Marlins did mount a six-run fifth inning off Adam Wainwright, who was working with an 11-run lead.
"The guys keep fighting," Locke said. "The guys aren't going to quit, they're going to keep fighting. There's not one game that's going to get anybody out of their funk, and there's not one win that's really going to change a ton of things. It's consistency. Once we get something going, we've got to keep it rolling."