PHILADELPHIA -- Another power-driven day ended in the Cardinals' second one-run loss of the week, as St. Louis fell, 4-3, to the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon in a rubber game at Citizens Bank Park. But this particular defeat will likely hurt the Cards more than in just the standings.
Despite a multihomer game from Yadier Molina, it was the health of Michael Wacha that loomed largest after the righty exited early due to injury. An anchor of the Cardinals' rotation this season, Wacha left with head trainer Adam Olsen shortly after allowing a two-run home run to Cesar Hernandez in the fourth. The diagnosis was left oblique tightness; Wacha underwent STEM treatment and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday in Milwaukee.
"It feels like a little stitch or a cramp or something in my left side. It didn't feel very good pitching," Wacha said. "Hopefully, it's nothing too serious. Hopefully, we got out of there in time."
St. Louis' injury concerns did not stop there, though Wacha's ailment is considered the most pressing. Jose Martinez received treatment on his left shoulder after jamming it during a collision at first base in the seventh, and Olsen also consulted with Mike Mayers, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand after replacing Wacha in the fourth. Both remained in the game, with Mayers tossing 1 1/3 innings of relief as part of a bullpen that largely held the line in Wacha's absence.
Asked to cover five-plus innings, the 'pen only bent when Sam Tuivailala surrendered a go-ahead home run to Odubel Herrera in the seventh. By then, the Cardinals had come back, courtesy of Molina's two-run blast to the opposite field off Jacob Arrieta in the sixth. Molina had already pulled a solo homer off Arrieta in the second, after the Phillies opened the scoring with a run off Wacha in the first.
Molina's fifth two-homer game, and first since August 2017, came after he entered play 6-for-32 with one home run lifetime off Arrieta. If he had the at-bats to qualify, Molina's .789 OPS would rank tied for second among Major League catchers.
"Yadi had a huge day, being able to go both fields off a very good pitcher," manager Mike Matheny said. "I imagine he'd be leading a lot of categories if he was healthy the whole time."
Molina "carried us," Martinez said, before the Cardinals brought the tying run in scoring position in each of the final two frames. But that's as close as they got. Edubray Ramos retired William Fowler and Greg Garcia to wiggle out of a jam in the eighth, and Adam Morgan sent down Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham to seal the game, sending the Cards to their ninth loss in 15 games. St. Louis has dropped four of its past five series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Martinez day to day: Martinez described his left shoulder as "a little tight, a little tender" after the game, adding that he will test it Thursday before determining if the injury will require him to miss any time. That qualifies as good news given how serious it looked initially; Martinez doubled over in pain after his arm was caught between Nick Williams and the first-base bag while reaching inside the first-base line for a throw. Martinez, who has played through injuries to his legs, wrist and feet this season, led off the next inning with a single.
"I didn't want to come out," he said. "You gotta hit, right? You're going to get ice after the game either way."
Good signs: One positive takeaway were the scoreless innings thrown by struggling relievers Brett Cecil and Greg Holland. Pitching for the first time in five days, Cecil recovered after allowing a double to strike out two in the sixth. Holland fired a 1-2-3 eighth, his second sharp outing after spending nearly a month on the disabled list.
Six of the seven combined runs were scored courtesy of the long ball, continuing a trend that was prevalent during the three-game set. Homers accounted for nine of the Cardinals' 15 runs in the series -- all but Molina's second home run on Wednesday registered as a solo shot. St. Louis also struck out 37 times in three games.
"The long ball hurt us and helped us," Matheny said. "We kept working our way back into games. Bottom line is, you have to get more than they do."
After beginning the season with a dominant eight-start stretch, the reality has changed for Carlos Martinez (3-3, 2.73 ERA), who has fought continuously to find his command since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. Martinez gets his next chance Thursday, when the Cardinals open an important four-game set against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Junior Guerra (3-5, 2.89) opposes, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. CT from Miller Park.