Clay Holmes blows another save to sink the Yankees in a loss to the Cardinals

Clay Holmes blows another save to sink the Yankees in a loss to the Cardinals

The Yankees would have found a way, during the first half of the season, to win the game they played on Friday night.

This is not the first half of the season anymore.

Closer Clay Holmes struggled for a second straight appearance, entering the eighth inning and giving up an infield hit, a walk and a two-run, go-ahead double to Paul DeJong as the Yankees lost their third straight, 4-3 to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

With a reconfigured bullpen, manager Aaron Boone walked Holmes in the bottom of the eighth with a 3-2 lead. Boone later said that Aroldis Chapman would have pitched in the ninth if the Yankees had still been ahead.

“It’s not easy for us right now,” Boone said of his team, which is 70-36 but just 12-16 over its last 28 games.

Holmes was not the only culprit. The Yankees scored just three runs, and didn’t score at all after the fifth, despite outscoring St. Louis, 10-5.

Clay Holmes reacts after giving up a two-run double in the eighth inning.
Clay Holmes reacts after giving up a two-run double in the eighth inning.
AP
Clay Holmes blew another save.
Clay Holmes blew another save.
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“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Matt Carpenter, who had two hits and a near-homer but struck out to end the game with the tying first. – It definitely feels like a game we were in control the whole time. They kept it tight and put us away.”

The eighth inning started innocently, as Holmes gave up a soft infield hit to Nolan Arenado with one out. He then walked Tyler O’Neill with two outs before DeJong — now 5-for-7 against Holmes — hit a two-run double.

“One thing that has made me successful is limiting my contact with right-wing people,” Holmes said. “Giving up a double down the line, especially with runners on, can’t happen.”

The fact that Chapman has been pitching better of late, as well as the additions of Scott Effross (who was acquired from the Cubs on Monday and pitched well for 1 ¹/₃ innings Friday) and Lou Trivino at the deadline, are indicative of a much different bullpen down the stretch .

“Hopefully we all get going as we are able and [Chapman] builds momentum,” Boone said. – We have many options there.

Nestor Cortes pitches Friday during the Yankees' loss to the Cardinals.
Nestor Cortes pitches Friday during the Yankees’ loss to the Cardinals.
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That would allow Holmes to attack right-handers in the seventh, eighth or ninth, but he has been less effective of late.

Nestor Cortes pitched well but wasn’t as sharp as usual, allowing a season-high four walks in just 5 ¹/₃ innings.

The Yankees took the lead in the top of the first after DJ LeMahieu led off with a walk. Aaron Judge struck out, but LeMahieu moved to third on a Carpenter single.

With two out, Josh Donaldson drilled an RBI double to right-center, scoring LeMahieu and sending Carpenter to third.

The Cardinals tied it in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of walks by Cortes and a two-out, run-scoring single by Yadier Molina.

Matt Carpenter greets Cardinals fans during his return to St. Louis.
Matt Carpenter greets Cardinals fans during his return to St. Louis.
AP
Tyler O'Neill (27) and Nolan Arenado (28) celebrate after scoring in the eighth inning.
Tyler O’Neill (27) and Nolan Arenado (28) celebrate after scoring in the eighth inning.
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Donaldson came up with his second RBI of the night in the third, singling in a run after Judge and Carpenter led off with singles against Dakota Hudson.

Torres delivered in the fifth. After Judge singled and stole second, he moved to third on a Carpenter groundout after Hudson was replaced by Andre Pallante. Torres then reached on an infield hit that drove in Judge to make it 3-1.

Cortes, who had allowed just three runs in 18 innings over his previous three starts, settled into a groove after Molina’s RBI single, retiring nine straight until a walk in the fifth.

But Cortes also matched a season-high with four walks, including one to Paul Goldschmidt that ended Cortes’ night with one out in the bottom of the sixth.

Tyler O'Neill runs first on his RBI single in the sixth inning.
Tyler O’Neill runs first on his RBI single in the sixth inning.
AP

A wild pitch by Albert Abreu, who took over for Cortes, sent Goldschmidt to second.

A single by Arenado put runners on the corners before Abreu struck out Nolan Gorman, pinch-hitting for Albert Pujols, for the second out.

But Abreu faltered and allowed a hit by O’Neill to make it 3-2, as Cortes ended up being charged with two runs.

Effross entered and struck out DeJong to preserve the one-run lead.

Pallante, meanwhile, took over for Hudson and threw four scoreless innings.

Ryan Hesley finished the game for the Cardinals. After he walked LeMahieu with one out in the ninth, Tim Locastro pinch-ran, but Judge and Carpenter couldn’t come through.

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