ST. LOUIS -- Giancarlo Stanton couldn’t quite get to the ball that fell to his left. Nor was his reach long enough to catch the one hit that looped over his head.
Two batters. Two doubles. Two runs.
And, as it turned out, the Cardinals needed every one of those sixth-inning tallies as they barely held on for a 3-2 victory Friday at Busch Stadium.
Trailing 3-0 in the ninth, the Marlins mounted a last-gasp rally, coming up with two runs and loading the bases with one out for Casey McGehee.
But McGehee, who has come through so often this season for the Marlins in clutch situations, grounded into a game-ending double play, and that was that.
Friday’s loss was the Marlins’ sixth in a row in St. Louis, with the sixth inning proving to be their undoing.
Nathan Eovaldi carried a shutout into the sixth before a wild pitch cost him one run and back-to-back doubles by Yadier Molina and Oscar Taveras — doubles that barely missed becoming outs in Stanton’s big outfield glove.
But it was typical of how things have gone for the Marlins here in recent years. When the Marlins visited Busch in 2012, Hanley Ramirez cut his finger on a dugout fan, Stanton sustained a knee injury that landed him on the operating table, and Heath Bell provided one of his infamous late-inning meltdowns.
Ramirez and Bell are long gone, but matters haven’t improved any for the Marlins along the banks of the Mississippi. On Friday, they were done in again by the pitching of Lance Lynn and the opportune bats of the Cardinals.
The latest loss caused them to drop four games below .500 for just the third time this season, and seven games behind Atlanta in the National League East. It is the deepest hole they’ve been in since the start of the season, which is starting to slip away on them.
Eovaldi was sharp for five scoreless innings, holding the Cardinals to a pair of singles.
Then things fell apart on him in the sixth.
With Cardinals at the corners and one out, Eovaldi bounced an 0-2 pitch that Jarrod Saltalamacchia failed to block, and the game’s first run raced across the plate. One out later, Molina lofted a fly ball toward the line in right. Stanton gave it a long chase and went down on his knees in a bid to make a sliding catch.
But the ball missed his glove, Molina lumbered into second, and the Cards had a 2-0 lead. Next up was Taveras, who drove a ball to right that Stanton chased to the warning track. Again, though, he couldn’t quite put his hands on it, and the double made it 3-0.
Of the six hits that Eovaldi gave up, four were recorded in the sixth.
Offensively, the Marlins were stifled by Lynn.
But they finally began to put it together in the ninth against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, loaded the bases with each of the first three batters reached and one scoring when Christian Yelich singled off Holliday’s glove in left.
After Ed Lucas struck out, Stanton drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-2.
But McGehee, who extended his road hitting streak to 18 games with a first-inning single, couldn’t come through in the ninth, grounding to third baseman Matt Carpenter in what turned into a game-ending double play.