ST. LOUIS -- All season long the thump and rhyme that filled the Cardinals' clubhouse after wins was cranked so high on the stereo near Jon Jay's locker that it would drown out postgame interviews. The ear had to strain over the high-decibel hip-hop to hear the players, but with practice -- and the Cardinals offered 59 wins of practice -- it became possible.
There was no Pitbull hammering away in the Cardinals' clubhouse Monday. No Jay-Z. No Eminem. There was only an eerie silence filling the room and following the Cardinals' final home game of the 2013 season.
The place had gone as quiet as their offense.
The Cardinals fell one game away from elimination with a 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series at Busch Stadium. Boston lefty Jon Lester won for the second time in the best-of-seven championship to put the Red Sox ahead, three games to two. The series returns to Fenway Park, where the Red Sox have two shots to win one game and clinch their first championship at home since 1918. The Cardinals have less than 48 hours to find that groove that made them the loudest offense in all of the National League.
"There's no sugarcoating this. It's a tough loss," said leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter. "We had three games at home and we lost two of them. There is nobody happy with how this has gone. This is not how we planned it, of course. We're frustrated. And, yeah, there's some disappointment. That's what you're hearing. It will be an absolute dogfight the next two games."
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright lost for the second time in the Series despite giving the offense ample time to catch up to his game. Wainwright held the Red Sox to one run through six innings and struck out 10. The Cardinals' righty carried a tie game into the seventh inning, where the bottom of the Boston order flipped the game on him. A walk by .085-hitting Stephen Drew preceded David Ross's double and Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI single to snap the 1-1 tie and set the final score.
Lester allowed only a solo home run from Matt Holliday -- to tie the score in the fourth -- and struck out seven. He has twice outdueled Wainwright and held the Cardinals to one run in 15 1/3 innings.
"It came down to the big hit," Cards manager Mike Matheny said, echoing a statement he has had following all three of the Cardinals' losses to the American League champs. "They got the big hit when they needed it, and we couldn't put much together. (We) played a cleaner game, but couldn't get much going. (Lester) kept us down."
The Cardinals returned to Busch having split the two games at Fenway and stolen home-field advantage from the Red Sox. It was supposed to be a significant home-field advantage. Not only did the Red Sox have to choose between David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to play first because of National League rules, the Cardinals owned Busch this year. They set a record for postgame dance parties in their clubhouse this season with 54 home wins, the most in the seven-year history of Busch III. They were 5-1 in the postseason and upped that to six wins in seven games with Saturday's win on an obstruction call. But Boston took two consecutive games by silencing the Cardinals' offense. Ortiz had three hits to the Cardinals' four in Game 5 and upped his average to .733.
Only twice in their history have the Cardinals won Games 6 and 7 on the road in a World Series when leaving home behind 3-2. The first time was their first championship, in 1926 at Yankee Stadium. In 1934, the Cardinals had Dizzy and Paul Dean win games at Tiger Stadium to claim the title.
"We have got to win Wednesday," Holliday said. "That's our focus."
The entirety of the Cardinals' lineup has slipped into some form of forced hibernation. They are slipping out of their approach, unsettled at the plate and batting .222 in 99 at-bats. The record-setting team with runners in scoring position is eight for 33 (.242) with runners in scoring position.
The sleep is deepest at the bottom.
Whether playing by American League rules with a position player batting ninth or National League with the pitcher in the No. 9 spot, the Cardinals' bottom three position players in the order entered Game 5 hitting .097 (four for 41). Allen Craig pushed his way into the lineup and onto the field by proving he could handle first base during a workout. The Cardinals' first announced lineup did not have Craig in it, but less than two hours before first pitch manager Mike Matheny rewrote his lineup to start Craig and hit him sixth.
The righty, four-for-nine in this Series despite the injured left foot, brought some past production to the lower ward of the lineup. He lapsed into the same trend.
David Freese had two hits off Lester and both of the hits that the bottom of the lineup had through eight innings. In the eighth inning Freese's one-out double down the first-base line brought the tying run to the plate. Pete Kozma, hitless in 10 World Series at-bats, flew out to left without advancing the runner. Pinch-hitter Matt Adams fell behind closer Koji Uehara and struck out on three pitches to end the threat.
Including two strikeouts by Wainwright, the bottom four in the Cardinals lineup went two for 11 through the first eight innings and hitless in three at-bats with a runner at second.
Carpenter has compounded issues with a .227 average as the lineup's ignition switch.
"It's tough when their guy is making pitches," Carpenter said. "It's frustrating and I hate as a hitter and as a competitor to say that. But when a guy is good, it's hard to hit."
Said Holliday: "Real good teams get to the World Series, and the reason both teams are here is they have good pitching."
Taking aim at several World Series hitting records, Ortiz had reached base nine consecutive times when he came to the plate with one out in the sixth inning. His first-inning double drove home the first run of the game and gave Boston a 1-0 lead. It also was his ninth hit in his first 12 at-bats of the World Series, tying him with Cincinnati's Billy Hatcher, who finished the 1990 World Series with a .750 average (nine for 12). Ortiz singled in his next at-bat to lead off the fourth inning.
The Cardinals have challenged the lefthanded slugger at times throughout the series, and Matheny grinned before Game 5 when asked if he planned to fine any pitcher who threw Ortiz a strike.
"He's making it tough for us to figure out how to get him out," Matheny said.
The back-to-back doubles by Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz in the first inning created the only blemish in Wainwright's first six innings. He struck out the side around the doubles, and the Cardinals' ace struck out six of the first eight batters he faced. The first three were on called third strikes. The next three came on swings.
By the third, Wainwright had strikeouts on his curve, cutter and fastball.
This was a far different pitcher from the one the Red Sox saw in Game 1. Wainwright facetiously said that he didn't show Boston any of his stuff in the Game 1 dud because he didn't have any of his stuff. The righty, famous for his abbreviated bullpen sessions between starts, spent more time than usual. After allowing five runs on six hits in five innings during Game 1, Wainwright spent the remaining innings of that game re-watching his outing. He noticed a change his release -- that his hand was higher than normal and his pitches flatter and higher as well.
He leaned on his curveball in the seventh and pointed to the walk to Drew as the turning point in the inning. Ross turned on a 79-mph curveball for a ground-rule double that dropped just inside the left-field line.
Wainwright needed 107 pitches to get through seven innings.
He'll be ready to throw if there's a Game 7, he said.
"I'm taking my spikes," Wainwright said. "This will be legendary when we go into Boston and win two games."
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