Luis Perez celebrates his 2nd inning blast.

Fresh off a sweep at home of the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals looked to keep their momentum going against the recently hot Los Angeles Dodgers, who came into town Monday night. However, it was not to be. Despite opening up the scoring in the first inning with a two-out RBI knock to right field by Lance Berkman to drive in Jon Jay, the Cardinals’ lead would be extremely brief. In the top of the second inning, after Andre Ethier and Adam Kennedy each reached base via an error by the Big Puma and a bloop single to left field that glanced off Rafael Furcal‘s glove, respectively, utility infielder Luis Cruz–yes, Luis Cruz (no I haven’t heard of him either)–turned on a hanging breaking ball served up by Joe Kelly and deposited it just over the wall in left field, putting the Dodgers up 3-1. The game remained fairly quiet until the top of the 7th, when Mark Ellis lined a two-out, two-run double into the left field corner off Victor Marte. While that put L.A. up 5-1, it proved to be the difference in the game, as Carlos Beltran belted a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth frame, and that was the last base runner the Cards would get. Chad Billingsley (5-9), in his first start since coming off the disabled list, got the win for the Dodgers, while Kelly (1-3) took home the loss, despite throwing a quality start. Kenley Jansen recorded his 19th save.

The Cardinals out-hit their opponent 9-7, which always makes losses tougher to swallow, but it was those two big hits by Cruz and Ellis that would be enough to secure Los Angeles’s fifth straight victory. Also, when considering both runners on base for Cruz’s homer were pretty darn “lucky” to reach, it further adds salt to the wound. As the old adage goes, sometimes that’s just the way the ball bounces, and tonight, the balls didn’t bounce in the Cardinals’ favor. With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 6 games back in the division behind the Cincinnati Reds, and 2.5 games back in the wild card.

What’s Next: Tuesday night, Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals will try to start a new winning streak against tough lefty Clayton Kershaw. The game begins at 7:15 CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest.