ATLANTA — Jamie Garcia wasn't discouraged after pitching his shortest outing in more than two years.
There were extenuating circumstances as St. Louis manager Mike Matheny held back Garcia's pitch count with the postseason beginning next week.
"You have that little thing in the back of your mind to just get your work in and be ready for the big one," Garcia said. "But no excuse. We lost today."
Julio Teheran pitched six strong innings and Daniel Castro drove in two runs as the Cardinals lost 4-0 to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
St. Louis, which opens the postseason at home next Friday, was coming off a three-game series win at Pittsburgh that secured its third straight division title. Matheny gave most of his everyday players the night off.
Teheran (11-8) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out six. The right-hander went 2-1 with a 1.62 ERA in his last six starts. The Braves' season ends Sunday.
The Cardinals had the bases loaded with no out in the fifth but came up empty when pinch-hitter John Jay grounded into a double play and Tommy Pham struck out.
Atlanta, which stranded 12 runners, went up 2-0 in the third on Castro's second homer and A.J. Pierzynski's RBI double. Castro's RBI double and Nick Markakis' RBI single in the eighth made it 4-0.
Garcia (10-6) gave up six hits and two runs with two walks and five strikeouts in his shortest outing since April 19, 2013 at Philadelphia. St. Louis has been shut out in all six of his losses.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, making his second relief appearance since returning this week from an Achilles injury that kept him out of 141 games, looked sharp. The right-hander faced four batters in the seventh with Castro reaching on an error.
"I certainly had better command and location of everything I threw," Wainwright said. "Better action on my cutter and breaking ball. The more I get comfortable pitching in that situation, coming out of the bullpen and mechanics and live situations again, the more crisp I'll be."
SAME TRADE, DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS
The deal that sent right fielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis and starting pitcher Shelby Miller to Atlanta last winter hasn't exactly been a blessing for both.
Heyward, who was given the night off, returned to Turner Field for the first time since last November's trade and leads his new team with a .292 average and 23 stolen bases.
"It'd be more of a homecoming if more of the teammates I played with were still here," Heyward said. "I know this is the team I broke in with and I played a lot of games with, but it's a different team and a different vibe."
Miller, whose new club has the majors' third-worst record, remains close with Matheny and several former teammates. He'll be cheering for them when the playoffs start.
Despite making the NL All-Star team, Miller is 0-16 in his last 24 starts, but has a 3.77 ERA over that span since May 17. He will try to end the streak Saturday.
"They're some of my best friends and I wish them the best of luck, but I'm going to try to beat them tomorrow," he said. "They're not going to get out of here easy, that's for sure."
Cardinals: Matheny hopes OF Stephen Piscotty can play Saturday or Sunday. The rookie suffered a head contusion in an outfield collision on Monday and spent the night in a Pittsburgh hospital. Matheny said Piscotty passed a concussion test and did some hitting and running before the game.
Braves: RHP Paco Rodriguez, acquired in the trade that brought third baseman Hector Olivera from the Los Angeles Dodgers, has undergone Tommy John surgery and will miss all of next season.
Cardinals: RHP John Lackey (13-9) is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two career starts against Atlanta.
Braves: RHP Miller (5-17) will face St. Louis for the second time. He lost 1-0 at Busch Stadium on July 25.