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Tough Friday defeat invokes memories of past 1-0 Cardinals losses

Tony La Russa
has now managed 2,246 regular season games since having taken over the reigns of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996. Friday night marked just the 14th time in almost 14 seasons that the opponent scored just one run while his team was shut out, arguably one of the most difficult kinds of losses to take.

The record books will show the Cardinals were defeated by the Atlanta Braves by a 1-0 score at Busch Stadium on Friday, yet the men in black share the responsibility. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher made a critical sixth-inning mistake that cost the Cardinals the tying run.

Matt Holliday was called out at the plate as he tried to score on Colby Rasmus’ single. Replays confirmed Holliday touched the plate with his left hand before being tagged on the arm by Braves catcher Brian McCann.

Despite pitching seven strong innings, Joel Pineiro was saddled with the loss, his first since June 28. Pineiro had picked up eight wins in his 11 starts since then.

Friday’s disappointing result marked just the sixth 1-0 home defeat during the La Russa years, with the other eight having occurred on the road.

This was the second 1-0 loss to the Braves, with the most having come against the Milwaukee Brewers, four.

Only three of the 14 games were lost by the bullpen, though two of them have occurred in the last four.

I doubt there is any correlation, but I find it interesting to look at 1-0 losses in seasons when the team made the playoffs. If you assume the Cardinals are in the post-season here in 2009, that makes eight years in 14 under La Russa, or 57%. In a fitting bit of symmetry, eight of the 14 1-0 games also occurred during playoff seasons.

These games seem to come in spurts. After only two 1-0 losses over the previous six seasons, there were four of them in 2006 alone. Then two more dry years ensued until the three this season.

Chris Carpenter has been the most common victim, with three starts wasted in the club’s last eight 1-0 losses. In a game many probably still remember, Carp absorbed the only 1-0 defeat of the 14 in which the winning run was unearned.

That was at Miller Park this May 25th, a contest in which the Cardinals ace fanned ten Brewers over eight innings only to see the Cards lose in the tenth on an error, two groundouts and a single off Kyle McClellan. Adam Wainwright had a 1-0 two-hitter spoiled at home against the same Brewers club just nine days prior.

Anthony Reyes’ best regular season game as a Cardinals starter was another memorable 1-0 loss as he allowed just one hit over eight innings in Chicago on June 22, 2006. That hit was a home run by then-White Sox, now Dodgers designated hitter Jim Thome.

Alan Benes is the only Cardinals starter during the TLR years to have suffered this fate twice in the same season, back in 1997. That year, St. Louis fell to fourth place after La Russa’s initial Cardinals team had won their division.

1-0 losses, Cardinals, 1996-2009

# Date Opp Starter Loser IP H R ER BB SO
14 9/11/2009 ATL Pineiro Pineiro 9 6 1 1 3 10
13 5/25/2009 @ MIL Carpenter McClellan 9.2 3 1 0 1 10
12 5/16/2009 MIL Wainwright Wainwright 9 2 1 1 4 7
11 9/20/2006 @ MIL Suppan T Johnson 8 9 1 1 2 4
10 9/2/2006 PIT Weaver Weaver 9 6 1 1 1 6
9 6/22/2006 @ CHW An Reyes An Reyes 8 1 1 1 0 6
8 4/14/2006 @ CIN Carpenter Carpenter 9 5 1 1 3 6
7 8/26/2004 CIN Carpenter Carpenter 8 3 1 1 1 11
6 4/20/2003 ARI Tomko Tomko 9 9 1 1 4 8
5 7/21/1999 @ CIN Jimenez Jimenez 8 3 1 1 2 4
4 1998-08-21(2) @ NYM Aybar Aybar 8 7 1 1 5 7
3 6/16/1997 @ MIL Al Benes Al Benes 8.1 4 1 1 3 11
2 5/16/1997 @ ATL Al Benes Frascatore 12.2 7 1 1 5 15
1 8/6/1996 SDP Osborne Osborne 9 4 1 1 4 7

Note: Pitching lines shown above are an aggregate of all St. Louis pitchers in that game.

Thanks to Tom Orf for identifying the past 1-0 contests.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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