Pen blasted again as Cards take series

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Brandon Moss No.37 of the St. Louis Cardinals scores ahead of the throw to Christian Bethancourt No.12 of the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning of a baseball game at PETCO Park on Monday in San Diego, California. AFP PHOTO

Brandon Moss No.37 of the St. Louis Cardinals scores ahead of the throw to Christian Bethancourt No.12 of the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning of a baseball game at PETCO Park on Monday in San Diego, California. AFP PHOTO

The Padres wanted out from under Jedd Gyorko’s contract. Out from underneath his thumb is another quandary altogether.

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They had no such luck this weekend.

Gyorko’s reunion tour continued on Sunday (Monday in Manila) with three more hits, including his fourth homer of the season in an 8-5 Cardinals win that crushed the Padres’ hopes of an incremental build toward something positive to carry away from their first substantial homestand of the season.

They scored their first run of the season here last week against the Diamondbacks.

‘Bout time.

They won their first series at home with two impressive victories against the Pirates.

That was interesting.

Yet their first winning home stand will have to wait until next month after the bullpen gave away a second straight game.

Padres relievers allowed 10 runs over the final three innings Saturday and five more over the final four innings Sunday. Kevin Quackenbush needed just five pitches to give away Colin Rea’s 5-3 lead in the sixth on homers to Gyorko and Aledmys Diaz and the Cardinals paraded three more runs around Brandon Maurer in the eighth to retake the lead one last time in a back-and-forth game.

The final rally started with a single from Matt Adams and a shift-beating drive into the right field corner. Adams scored from first base as Matt Kemp raced to the foul line to track down the ball, Maurer intentionally walked Brandon Moss with one out and Randal Grichuk plated two more runs on a double in the left-field alley before getting out of the inning.

The saving grace: A scoreless ninth from left-hander Brad Hand lowered the bullpen ERA to 5.71 on the season.

Gyorko finished a double shy of the cycle Sunday and left Petco Park with six hits – and 14 total bases – in 10 at-bats. He flew out to right as a pinch-hitter on Friday night, homered during a three-hit game Saturday as the starting third baseman and collected three more hits Sunday.

Boos followed him every step of the way, though not nearly as loud as when he greeted Quackenbush with a solo homer in the sixth inning.

Rea allowed two runs in the first on back-to-back singles from Randal and Yadier Molina and one more in the third after Kemp played Gyorko’s ball off the wall in right into a leadoff triple. From there, Fallbrook High grad Mike Leake cashed him in for a 3-2 lead, the high point of his afternoon after allowing five runs – three earned – on seven hits and two walks in five innings.

Two of those runs scored off the bat of Christian Bethancourt, whose passed ball and errant throw on a stolen base attempt opened the door for the Cardinals’ two-run first. The Padres back-up catcher got one back in the second on a sacrifice fly and got another with his first home run of the year in the fourth, a solo shot to right that tied the game at 3-3.

Melvin Upton Jr. and Alexi Ramirez singled in runs in the fifth inning only to see the Cardinals bullpen provide the relief the Padres’ couldn’t. Upton was ejected arguing balls and strikes during a run of seven straight outs by the Cardinals’ pen, Jonathan Broxton struck out two to strand runners at first and second in the eighth and Trevor Rosenthal left two runners on base in the ninth to complete his fifth save.

TNS

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