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Cardinals hit rough patch with 2nd 3-game losing streak of season, go down to Padres 5-3

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ST. LOUIS — Suddenly, the St. Louis Cardinals have hit a rough patch. No one seems overly concerned about the second three-game losing streak of the season that puts the onus on the offense.

"I just feel like it's one of those times when it's not falling your way," Jason Heyward said after a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

"The last three games it's just been that one AB where we didn't get the hit."

The 5-6-7-8 hitters combined for two walks and an RBI against the Padres. But Yadier Molina came close with his bid for a game-winning hit in the ninth foiled by first baseman Derek Norris' diving stop.

"I've been saying it all year long. We're not going to come through every time, we just want to be in the situation and put the pressure on teams," Heyward added. "We're not losing games, teams are playing well and beating us."

Will Venable hit a pinch-hit two-run home run in the top of the 11th for the Padres, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Venable had been 1 for 17 coming off the bench before connecting on the first pitch from Carlos Villanueva (3-3) after the Padres successfully challenged a fair-foul ruling that resulted in a ground-rule double by Clint Barmes. The ball appeared to tick the line as Heyward, the right fielder, made an unsuccessful attempt at a sliding catch near the stands.

Venable followed with his sixth homer of the year.

Shawn Kelley (1-2) had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings and Craig Kimbrel earned his 20th save in 21 chances. Yangervis Solarte and starter Tyson Ross also homered for the Padres, who were shut out their two previous games.

Heyward and Matt Carpenter had two hits and an RBI apiece. St. Louis leads the majors at 51-27 and despite the slump also has the best home record at 29-10.

PHOTO: St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva reacts after giving up a two-run home run to San Diego Padres' Will Venable during the 11th inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 2, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Villanueva reacts after giving up a two-run home run to San Diego Padres' Will Venable during the 11th inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 2, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Cardinals had won nine in a row at home before the slide, in which they've totaled five runs. They've been taxed physically and mentally lately with the last four games and five of the last six including lengthy rain delays or extra innings, with Thursday's loss five minutes shy of four hours.

"We get sick of the rain delays," center fielder Peter Bourjos said. "We've played so well, three games isn't a big deal.

"But at the same time you've got to stay on it and continue to push."

Both Ross and St. Louis rookie starter Tim Cooney allowed three runs in six innings, with two earned against Cooney. Ross hit his first career homer to the opposite field in right in the fifth and Cooney doubled to begin St. Louis' two-run rally in the bottom half to tie it at 3.

"I had a little motivation to try to get him back," Cooney said. "Happy it fell in."

Cooney was much improved from his first career start, when he was limited to 2 1/3 innings against the Phillies on April 30.

Solarte led off the second with his third homer but was ejected for the first time in his career after arguing a strikeout to end the sixth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: IF Will Middlebrooks has been limited to two pinch-hit appearances since injuring his ankle stepping on a bat on Sunday but could start in the next few days.

Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia, pushed back from Thursday's start rehabbing from a mild groin strain, is on track to work in a double-header next Tuesday in Chicago.

UP NEXT

The four-game series continues on Friday. St. Louis ace Michael Wacha will be on six days rest and is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in nine career starts under those circumstances. San Diego's Andrew Cashner was 1-2 in six June starts and is coming off one of his best outings of the year, allowing two runs in seven innings to beat Arizona.

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