It’s been nearly four years since the St. Louis Cardinals have experienced a losing streak this long.
The Cardinals will try avoid their sixth straight defeat when they wrap up a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers, owners of the major leagues’ best record, at Comerica Park on Sunday.
St. Louis (42-31) will be glad to end a six-game road stretch against the top two teams in the AL Central. Through a three-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox and the first two games of this series, the Cardinals have given up 51 runs.
St. Louis took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it. Closer Jason Isringhausen gave up a tying two-run homer to Marcus Thames, and rookie Tyler Johnson allowed a two-out double by former Cardinal Placido Polanco that scored Curtis Granderson in the 10th and gave the Tigers a 7-6 win.
“We’ve won games like that—we’ve broken people’s hearts before,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “Tonight, we got our hearts broken.”
Detroit (50-25) has won 13 of its last 15. The Cardinals’ losing streak is their longest since a seven-game slide from July 31-Aug. 7, 2002—Albert Pujols’ second season in the majors.
Since being activated from the disabled list Thursday after missing 15 games with a strained oblique muscle, Pujols is hitting .417 (5-for-12) in three games. He still leads the major leagues with 26 homers.
Jeremy Bonderman (8-4, 3.82 ERA) will try to lead Detroit to the sweep as he looks to win back-to-back outings for the first time since April 25-May 1.
The right-hander gave up a run and four hits over seven innings and struck out 12 for the second straight game in a 3-1 win over Milwaukee on Monday.
“I think Bonderman, to me, was the best I’ve ever seen (him) for five innings. Maybe six,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s just justice that he got the win. I’m so happy for him.”
No Tigers pitcher had posted double-digit strikeouts in back-to-back games since David Wells in 1993. Bonderman also became the first Tigers pitcher to strike out at least 12 in two straight games since Mickey Lolich recorded consecutive games with 14 in 1971.
After a dismal outing in relief Tuesday, Sidney Ponson (4-2, 5.30) moves back into the rotation for the Cardinals. In a 20-6 drubbing at the hands of the Chicago White Sox that began St. Louis’ losing streak, the right-hander gave up six runs and hit two batters with the bases loaded in a 28-pitch appearance.
“I’m not going to put my teammates in jeopardy to get hurt. It looked like it was, but it wasn’t. It was never my intention,” Ponson said of hitting two White Sox players with pitches. “Those guys are going to be mad and they have every right to do that. I would be too if I got hit like that.”
Since defeating San Diego on May 27, Ponson is 0-2 with an 8.30 ERA in four appearances. That stretch has raised his ERA by nearly 2 1/2 runs per game.