Cards still shuffling

St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso, front, looks down during the ninth inning of their baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, in San Diego. The Cardinals lost to the Padres 3-2. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso, front, looks down during the ninth inning of their baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, in San Diego. The Cardinals lost to the Padres 3-2. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) (Gregory Bull)
Posted: September 14, 2012

ANOTHER DAY, another loss, and more frustration for the St. Louis Cardinals. Unlike last year when a tremendous stretch run lifted St. Louis to the NL wild-card berth and, ultimately, the World Series title, the Cardinals are sinking fast.

Clayton Richard (13-12) pitched seven strong innings and rookie Yasmani Grandal singled home the go-ahead run as the San Diego Padres handed visiting St. Louis its 11th loss in 15 games, 3-2, on Wednesday.

The Cardinals hold a one-game lead over Los Angeles for the second NL wild card. The Dodgers host St. Louis in a crucial four-game series starting Thursday night.

"We can't depend on the other teams to keep losing," Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse (14-3) said. "We have to take care of our own business. We have a big series coming up."

But the Cardinals need to find answers in a hurry. They have lost eight of their last nine road games and are in the midst of playing 13 of 16 away from home.

"We're going through a rough stretch, but at the same time, we're still in the hunt," said rightfielder Matt Carpenter, who homered but hurt his club with a key error. Carpenter's misplay on Cameron Maybin's double in the fifth allowed an unearned run to score.

Last season, St. Louis went 23-9 down the stretch to capture the wild-card slot. But this team has played the complete opposite in the final weeks.

"Overall, it doesn't matter [how hard the team plays] because it all comes down to whether you win," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "They are still aware of the sense of urgency."

Logan Forsythe hit a solo home run for the Padres, who completed a three-game sweep of St. Louis for the first time since August 1995.

In other games: * 

At Phoenix, Justin Upton had two RBI and Trevor Cahill (11-11) had seven strikeouts over seven innings to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

* At Cincinnati, Homer Bailey (11-9) pitched seven solid innings and the Reds came up with just enough offense to squeeze out a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh for a three-game sweep of the Pirates.

* At New York, John Lannan (3-0) pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings in his first start since replacing Stephen Strasburg in Washington's starting rotation, and the Nationals lowered their magic number for clinching a playoff berth to six with a 2-0 win over the punchless Mets.

* At Houston, Alfonso Soriano finished a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two runs and Travis Wood (6-11) allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-1 win over the Astros.

* At Milwaukee, Rickie Weeks hit a three-run homer and Yovani Gallardo (15-8) struck out six in seven innings as the Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves, 6-2.

* At Denver, Brandon Crawford hit a two-run double and Hunter Pence had a run-scoring triple to help lead the San Francisco Giants to an 8-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

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