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What we learned as Giants drop second straight to Cardinals

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Brandon Crawford

SAN FRANCISCO -- The St. Louis Cardinals spent eight innings on Tuesday night playing like a team that hadn't seen a pop-up before, but they came up with a clutch defensive play at the exact right time. 

Dylan Carlson slammed against the left field wall to rob Jason Vosler of what would have been a game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday, clinching a 6-5 win for the Cardinals, who have taken the first two games of this series. The Giants have lost six of their last nine games but remained in first place because the Los Angeles Dodgers lost earlier in the night. 

The Giants continued to not have many answers for longtime foes Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, who drove in the first four runs, but they scratched their way back in the late innings against a team that played extremely sloppy defense. 

The Cardinals took a three-run lead into the eighth but Mike Yastrzemski cut into it with his third hit of the night, an RBI single to right. Wilmer Flores followed with a high pop-up to center that had a hit probability of one percent, but three Cardinals converged and let it drop. It was the third pop-up of the night to drop between Cardinals fielders and this one allowed another run to score. 

The Giants immediately put more pressure on in the ninth, with Brandon Crawford notching his fourth hit and Donovan Solano walking on four pitches. They got the tying run to third with one out, but Chadwick Tromp popped up and then Vosler flied out. With Steven Duggar on first, his shot to left would have won it had it bounced off the wall, but Carlson was there to save the game. 

 

Keeping Them Around

It wasn't easy for Cueto, but he got through six innings with the Giants down by a run, in large part because of his own efforts defensively. Cueto twice busted it to first in the sixth to take feeds from infielders and get outs, allowing him to avoid any more trouble after a couple of mistake pitches early on.

Arenado took Cueto deep in the first and he made a huge mistake in the fourth by walking Carlson, loading the bases ahead of Goldschmidt. The longtime Giant-killer got a 3-2 fastball that caught far too much of the plate and smoked it into left to give the Cardinals a two-run lead. 

Cueto will finish the first half with a 4.15 ERA, but he's giving the Giants crucial length, especially in recent weeks. This was the third time in his last four starts he went at least six innings. 

Those Guys. Again.

Arenado's homer in the first inning was his 32nd against the Giants and his 12th at Oracle Park. That's the second-most among visiting players. The only player with more? The man hitting in front of him, Goldschmidt, has 13 career homers at Oracle Park. 

The two came in as teammates for the first time and had three hits, a walk, an RBI and a run on Monday. They combined for five hits, four RBI and three runs on Tuesday.

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Hot Heading Into The Break

Crawford has at least three hits in three of his last four games and he had four on this night, raising his average from .248 to .275. He nearly added a fifth hit and his 18th homer of the year, but his long fly ball to center was caught at the track in the seventh.

Crawford got the Giants on the board with a two-run single in the third that tied the game and added an RBI double in the fifth. He has 55 RBI this season, which is tied for sixth in the NL. With nearly half the season left, he's just 29 RBI from his previous career-high.