Sunday Game Report: Guardians 4, Cardinals 3

Sunday Game Report: Guardians 4, Cardinals 3

By Rob Rains

With two outs, two runners on base and the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Sunday, manager Oli Marmol had a decision to make.

He could have his closer, Ryan Helsley, pitch to the Guardians’ best hitter, Jose Ramirez, or he could walk Ramirez and have Helsley pitch to Josh Bell with the bases loaded.

Marmol elected to pitch to Ramirez. In the 20-20 world of hindsight, it was the wrong choice. Ramirez lined a two-run double into right center and the Guardians had a walk-off victory.

The hit was set up by back-to-back walks by Helsley, on eight pitches, as he suffered his fourth blown save of the season. It was the third walk-off loss of the year for the Cardinals, with Helsley getting the loss all three times.

Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:

At the plate: All of the Cardinals’ runs came on solo home runs, all in the fifth inning. Alec Burleson led off the inning with his fourth of the season, Andrew Knizner also hit his fourth with one out and with two outs Paul Goldschmidt launched his 10th of the season … The Cardinals had just three hits as they were shut out over the final four innings … Nolan Arenado snapped an 0-of-16 slump with a second-inning double, his first hit in the six games he played on the road trip. He also singled in the eighth inning … The Cardinals were 0-of-4 with runners in scoring position and were a combined 1-of-15 with a runner on second or third in the three games in Cleveland.

On the mound: The blown save cost Jordan Montgomery what would have been his first victory in nine starts since April 8. The Cardinals are 0-9 in those games … Montgomery allowed two runs over his five innings, leaving the game after a leadoff double in the sixth … Jordan Hicks worked two scoreless innings in relief before the Guardians loaded the bases against Drew VerHagen in the eighth. Genesis Cabrera was able to escape the jam with a home-to-first double play … In the ninth, Helsley retired the leadoff batter before the consecutive walks. A fly out produced the second out, but Ramirez’s hit on a 1-0 pitch gave the Guardians the win.

Key stat: The Cardinals scored a combined total of 28 runs on the seven-game trip to Cincinnati and Cleveland, with eight of those runs coming in a win against the Reds. They had a combined .216 average (51-of-236) in going 3-4 on the trip.

Worth noting: The Cardinals have lost their last six games when three solo home runs accounted for all of their runs. Their last win in a game on three solo homers was on Aug. 10, 2003 … The Guardians were a combined 8-of-32 with runners in scoring position in the series, including 3-of-13 on Sunday, but won two of the three games … The three homers for the Cardinals increased their total for May to 44, just one shy of the franchise record for the month of 45 set in 2000. They have two games left in May.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals return home for a quick two-game series against the Royals. Adam Wainwright will get the start on Monday in a 1:15 p.m. Memorial Day game.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out Rob Rains, Editor.