Springdale, AR - The Springfield Cardinals struck for four runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but came up just short, 6-5, against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals before 7,756 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.
Northwest Arkansas (6-13) took an early lead with two runs (only one earned) against RHP Sam Gaviglio (L, 1-3) in the bottom of the first. With runners at first and second and one away, 3B Cheslor Cuthbert chopped a grounder to third base. Cardinals 3B Curt Smith fielded the ball and tried to start a double play with a throw to second, but the throw was a little high and carried to right field, enabling everyone to be safe and CF Lane Adams to score from second on the play. 1B Jared Schlehuber then bounced an RBI single to left field to make it 2-0.
The Cardinals (9-10) cut the deficit in half against LHP Sam Selman (W, 1-1) in the top of the fourth. 1B Jonathan Rodriguez, who had already tripled in the second inning, started the fourth with a double to left field. After moving to third base on a groundout, Rodriguez came home on an RBI sacrifice fly from C Cody Stanley to cut it to just a 2-1 Naturals lead.
Gaviglio kept the Cardinals close, retiring nine of 10 batters faced from the second through the fourth, but the Naturals widened the gap in the bottom of the fifth inning, capitalizing on a couple of errors. C Parker Morin reached on the first miscue to start the stanza, before taking second on a sacrifice bunt. SS Whit Merrifield then hit a two-run homer to left, stretching the lead to 4-1. Adams followed with a walk and a steal, before RF Jorge Bonifacio worked a walk. The two then completed a double steal that also drew an errant throw past third from Stanley, allowing Adams to score. A groundout moved Bonifacio to third base, and then a two-out RBI single from Schlehuber capped the rally for the 6-1 lead.
Springfield, though, started the comeback right away. Facing LHP Noel Arguelles, DH Aledmys Diaz led off the top of the sixth inning with a towering solo home run to left field, making it 6-2.
The Cardinals kept swinging closer in the top of the seventh. 2B Greg Miclat worked a one-out walk, before stealing second base. After RF James Ramsey worked a walk, Miclat swiped his way to third, putting runners at the corners for Diaz. Arguelles then uncorked a wild pitch that enabled Miclat to race home and Ramsey to take second base. Diaz struck again with an RBI single to left field, plating Ramsey to make it 6-4. After taking second on the throw home, Diaz stole his way to third base with Rodriguez at the plate. Rodriguez then placed an RBI infield single to the left side of the infield, scoring Diaz to bring the Cardinals within one run of tying it, 6-5.
Still trying to even it, the Cardinals got the potential tying run as far as third base in the eighth, but RHP Andrew Triggs (S, 1) worked out of trouble, before posting a scoreless ninth as the Naturals hung on for the 6-5 win.
Click here for the complete box score from Wednesday's game.
Cardinals return for 8-game homestand starting on Tuesday, April 29
The Cardinals continue the road trip against the Naturals on Thursday at 7:05pm. Catch all the action live on Jock 98.7FM and SpringfieldCardinals.com, and tune in 15 minutes early for the Coyote's Sports Cafe Pregame Show.
The Cardinals return home to start an eight-game homestand on Tuesday, April 29 with a Great Southern Bank $1 Dog Day at 7:10pm. The homestand will feature three educational days (4/30, 5/5, 5/6), the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals National League Championship Replica Ring Giveaway (2,500) and a "Buck a Brat" Night on Thursday, May 1, AM Pyrotechnics Friday Night Fireworks featuring Music from the 90s on Friday, May 2, the Price Cutter and Bar-S Foods 10th Season T-Shirt Giveaway (2,500) on Saturday, May 3 and much, much more. Click below to view the complete schedule.
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