ST. LOUIS -- It's not the heat. It's the humility.
The Angels felt the deep sting of another bitterly disappointing loss on Sunday, letting a four-run lead get away for the fourth time this season in the Cardinals' 6-5 comeback triumph on Felipe Lopez's game-winning hit in the 10th inning. It gave St. Louis the Interleague series after it had dropped Saturday's middle game.
Symbolic of the day, and the season, was the plight of Scot Shields. The veteran setup artist absorbed the defeat after a projected duel between aces Jered Weaver Chris Carpenter evolved into a wild, freewheeling affair in front of 44,417 Busch Stadium customers.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Taking over in the ninth after a two-run single by third baseman David Freese had tied it against Fernando Rodney in the eighth, Shields rolled through the inning with two comebackers and a strikeout, with the great Albert Pujols -- hitless in 10 weekend at-bats -- tapping one back to him for the third out.
"That first inning was the best I've thrown all season," Shields said. "Then it was probably the worst I've thrown. I felt really good. Maybe I started out [the 10th] trying to be too fine. No clue what happened."
What happened was Shields walked Matt Holliday, struck out Colby Rasmus, hit Freese with a pitch and walked Yadier Molina, loading the bases for Lopez, who'd entered the game in the seventh inning.
Manager Mike Scioscia summoned the hard-throwing Trevor Bell from the bullpen, and Lopez launched a deep fly ball on a 1-1 delivery against a five-man infield that bounced over the wall for an RBI single. Lopez was mobbed between first and second base, never reaching the bag as the winning run scored.
"I threw a fastball down, and he lifted it far enough to get out there," Bell said. "It was a great piece of hitting.
"You have to get a ground ball or a strikeout there. You've got to throw your best stuff over the plate, because you can't walk the guy. No excuses."
Shields, the only player left from the 2002 World Series championship cast, took the loss, personally as well as on paper.
"You can't go out there against a team like this and walk two guys and hit a guy," he said. "You're going to lose, period. I take the blame for that ... and move on."
Cards closer Ryan Franklin (3-0) picked up the win after throwing two scoreless innings.
"It was a real good win, a hard-earned win," Cards manager Tony La Russa said. "When you consider the quality of the opponent, the heat, toughness of the game, that was really a hard-earned win.
"Shields, he pitched that first inning and walked right through some of our best guys. He came out there the second inning, and one of the things we have is, we've got threats all the time. So you've got to make pitches."
The sizzling Mike Napoli powered the Angels' attack with his third homer in the series, one in each game, and two singles. Kendry Morales also homered in support of Weaver, who held the Cards to three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks, striking out eight in six innings.
"I tried to talk [Scioscia] into another inning," said Weaver, who dispensed 98 pitches in the 87-degree heat, "but we've got two reliable guys [Kevin Jepsen and Rodney] with Tito [Fuentes] down there. We couldn't hold it. That's baseball."
After Jepsen worked a perfect seventh, Rodney unraveled under the weight of 37 pitches, blowing his first save chance after 21 in a row over two seasons.
Two walks and three steals (two by Pujols) had runners in scoring position with two away. Freese -- a .386 hitter with runners in scoring position -- banged a fastball through the right side to tie it at 5. Jason Bulger fanned Nick Stavinoha for the final out.
Allowing the double steal -- of third by Pujols and second by Rasmus -- was a play Scioscia referenced when he mentioned "fundamental" mistakes his team had made.
"Freese had a great at-bat," Scioscia said. "We lost the game on some fundamental things. The double steal didn't help. We didn't get the throw down there. We had him out. Mike [Napoli] makes that throw very well to third base. He just didn't quite get it there.
"On the offensive side, we let some things slip away."
The Angels struck first, in the second inning, when Morales, down 0-2 in the count, launched his 10th homer of the season to right.
Singles by Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter preceded Napoli's three-run smash to right in the fourth, giving him a homer for each of the three games and six for the season.
The Cards got back in it in the fourth, when Molina drilled a two-run single to left with the bases loaded. Shortstop Erick Aybar's error on Brendan Ryan's grounder cashed in another run.
A superb tag at third by Kevin Frandsen on Juan Rivera's throw, erasing Molina as he banged against Frandsen's glove, helped take Weaver out of the inning. Frandsen, replaced by Brandon Wood two innings later, said that his left wrist was fine.
Errors by Pujols on consecutive grounders by Aybar and Howard Kendrick produced an unearned run in the fifth on Abreu's single, making him 15-for-26 against Carpenter with 11 RBIs.
Carpenter (5-2) left after six innings having yielded five runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks, striking out four.
The Angels had one baserunner in four innings against the Cards' bullpen, which prevailed in the day's decisive duel.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.