ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — One bad inning from Kyle McClellan and a lack of clutch hitting did in the St. Louis Cardinals.
Casey Kotchman drove in three runs with a double and Justin Ruggiano hit a two-run homer during a five-run sixth inning against McClellan, helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cardinals 5-1 on Saturday night.
"If I had to describe it, I didn't pitch that inning the way I did all the others," McClellan said. "You're trying to prevent them from scoring, doing everything you can. Trying to be too perfect."
Kotchman's bases-clearing hit with two outs put the Rays ahead 3-1. Ruggiano followed with his fourth homer of the season to make it 5-1.
"That was weird," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He made some mistakes, but he came back and made some really good pitches. Then two outs, all of a sudden there's five runs out there."
St. Louis did get some encouraging news off the field. La Russa said first baseman Albert Pujols, who broke his left wrist on June 19, could return ahead of time. The slugger was originally expected to miss four to six weeks.
McClellan (6-5) gave up five runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings. He has lost five of his last six decisions.
"It's just a tough one to take," McClellan said. "It's disappointing that I let it happen."
Jeff Niemann (3-4) allowed one run and nine hits in six-plus innings.
Lance Berkman put the Cardinals up 1-0 with his 21st homer this season in the fourth. He had two homers in Thursday night's 9-6 win at Baltimore.
St. Louis, which had a four-game winning streak end, loaded the bases with one out later in the fourth, but failed to increase the lead when Skip Schumaker hit into a double play.
Cesar Ramos replaced Niemann with two on and no outs in the seventh and retired Jon Jay on a fly ball. Juan Cruz then entered and got a double-play grounder from Matt Holliday.
Ruggiano made a nice sliding catch on Schumaker's foul ball down the left-field line with two on and two outs in the second.
"We actually did a terrific job of getting innings started and just didn't play good baseball," La Russa said. "Didn't do anything with it. We had some opportunities."
The Cardinals were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, and left 10 runners on base.
Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon moved past Boston star Ted Williams, who had 2,654 hits, into 71st place on the all-time list with an opposite-field single to left leading off the first. Damon went 4 for 4 and has 2,658 hits overall.
"Ted Williams, to many, is the greatest hitter of all time," Damon said. "Obviously, he could have had more hits. He walked so many times. Spent five years of (military) service to our country. Having the Boston ties that I do have and knowing the history of that franchise, and the history of Ted Williams, it's a special moment."
Damon played four seasons with the Red Sox, including the 2004 World Series championship team.
Tampa Bay beat the Cardinals for the first time at home after dropping the first four meetings in Florida, including a three-game set in June 2005.
The Rays wore the home uniform of the 1951 Tampa Smokers, a Class B Florida International League team, on Turn Back the Clock Night. The Cardinals used their 1953 road uniform.
Notes: Berkman has eight homers in his last 14 road games. ... The Cardinals had five infield hits and 10 overall. ... Holliday (cold-like symptoms) was the DH for the second straight game and had one hit in four at-bats. He could play in the field Sunday. ... Schumaker singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Joe Paleveda, who played for the Smokers in 1946, threw the ceremonial first pitch.
- first baseman
- Casey Kotchman
- Jeff Niemann
- Justin Ruggiano
- Johnny Damon
- Boston star Ted Williams
- Tampa Bay Rays
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Tony La Russa