The Cardinals fell to the Reds on Sunday night by a score of 4-2 as Cincinnati completed a three-game sweep to move 4.5 games ahead of the now third-place St. Louis Cardinals. This was a tough game to watch, and quite frankly a very tough series to watch. The Cards continued to miss scoring opportunities and their bullpen continued to give up costly runs, most notably Scott Rolen’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Jake Westbrook pitched solidly tonight, throwing 7.1 innings while giving up nine hits and four runs. His line may not show it, but he without a doubt kept the Cards in the ballgame, a running theme that this starting pitching staff has been doing for this team all season long. After Westbrook hit Brandon Phillips in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Matheny chose to go with Marc Rzepczynski and eventually Mitchell Boggs to combine for a third straight Cardinals loss, as the Cards have now fallen to 46-43.

In terms of what’s next for this team, they have to start winning and they have to start winning now. They head to Milwaukee tonight for a three game set and cannot afford to keep playing the way they have been playing. As I say in the podcast, it is unacceptable that a lineup with this number of great hitters cannot capitalize in the moments they have needed to throughout the first three games of this second half. If they want to earn a spot in the playoffs in 2012, they are going to need to drastically change their performance when it comes to situational hitting.

On the bright side, I’m happy to say that it seems like Lance Berkman has no repercussions from his knee surgery as he hustled his way from first base to home on a Yadier Molina double in the second inning. Hopefully with a few more at bats, he can regain his timing and help out this lineup that is truly struggling to score some key runs. In the meantime, let’s hold our heads up, Cards Nation, and look forward to tonight.

What’s Next: The Cardinals travel to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers where Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.41 ERA) will take on Mike Fiers (3-3, 2.31)