ST. LOUIS -- The D-backs ran into Jaime Garcia at Busch Stadium, which is never a good situation.
Garcia continued his success at home this season, stifling the D-backs on a sweltering day, and the D-backs dropped their second game in a row, 4-2, on Sunday to head into the All-Star break on a bit of a low note.
"We lost some tough games the last couple of days and we'll just bounce back, get some rest and come right back," said Ryan Roberts. "I think we've played good baseball."
The D-backs did have a productive road trip, though, finishing with a 5-5 record against three quality opponents in the A's, Brewers and Cardinals.
"It was a decent road trip for us -- .500 on the road isn't bad baseball by any means," said Chris Young. "We've been playing some good teams lately, and we've been playing pretty good against them. We'll take these days to relax and recoup."
The D-backs met the same fate as almost all of Garcia's opponents have at Busch, where the southpaw has a 1.14 ERA -- the best in the Majors -- and 6-1 record this season.
Roberts belted a two-run homer in the second inning -- a high fly ball that soared 364 feet into the left-field seats -- to knot the score at 2, but the D-backs couldn't muster anything else against Garcia and the Cards' bullpen.
Zach Duke started for the D-backs and lasted six innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits. The southpaw got off to a rough start, allowing two runs in the first inning on a single by Matt Holliday and a sacrifice fly.
Duke was relatively solid for the rest of his outing, though, but made one mistake to David Freese in the third. Freese turned on a 1-0 pitch, driving the ball 382 feet for a two-run homer that put the Cards ahead to stay, 4-2.
"I was trying to go in and left a ball middle-up, which is what he hits well, and it ended up being the deciding factor in the game," Duke said. "It was tough."
It was Duke's first loss in four starts against a National League Central opponent. Despite the slow start on Sunday, the left-hander settled in and finished his outing strong.
"I got into a good rhythm, making good pitches, and I was able to keep the big guys from hurting me and give us a chance," Duke said.
Duke kept his team in the game, but Garcia wouldn't relinquish the lead, and the Cardinals bullpen held the D-backs in check for three innings.
Garcia was on top of his game again at home, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings. The left-hander departed after 89 pitches, and had five strikeouts against two walks. He pitched out of trouble when he needed to, and kept the D-backs off balance at the plate.
"What Jaime has done since he came into this league is phenomenal," Freese said. "I don't think he really knows how good he is. Maybe that's a good thing, because his work ethic is phenomenal."
The D-backs did get some good news after the game, as catcher Miguel Montero was named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career. Bruce Bochy, the NL manager, named Montero to the roster to replace injured Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco.
Montero was eating a postgame meal when manager Kirk Gibson called him over to share the news.
"I felt like when I got called up [from the Minors], to be honest," Montero said. "I wanted to cry, I was so excited. It's a great moment."
Arizona heads into the All-Star break in second place in the NL West. The D-backs have been on the road for 16 of their past 19 games and are looking forward to some much needed rest. Though the club dropped two in a row heading into the break, Gibson feels good about his team's performance in the first half of the season.
"You can't be disappointed. We've got to just chill out, we've been grinding so hard for so long," Gibson said. "Everybody's going to get a good rest and be ready to pick up where we left off when we get back."
But for all of their success this season, the D-backs understand the challenges that lie ahead in a tight divisional race.
"The second half isn't going to be any easier," Young said.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.