Houston Not only are the St. Louis Cardinals losing the NL championship series 3-1, they're losing their cool.
Manager Tony La Russa and Jim Edmonds were ejected for arguing pitch calls in the seventh and eighth innings of Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros, another frustrating game for them in an increasingly frustrating series.
"No, I don't think we've lost control at all," Edmonds said. "I think that Tony thought the situation called for him to argue, and I was just asking why that was a strike when it hadn't been a strike all day."
Players were trying their best to move on and concentrate on the task at hand, namely beating the Astros' big three of Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens in succession to make it back to the World Series for the second straight season.
"Guess what, if we're going to be a champion we've got to come back," leadoff man David Eckstein said. "The bottom line is we still have life."
Nothing has gone right the last three games, all Astros victories, for the team that led the major leagues with 100 victories, swept the Padres in the first round and went 11-5 against the Astros in the regular season.
Before losing the manager who's third on the career victory list behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw, plus their second-best run producer, the Cardinals had already been short-handed. They were down to their third choice at third base, John Mabry, given that Scott Rolen had season-ending shoulder surgery in August and Abraham Nunez sustained a deep left thigh bruise in a collision with Astros base-runner Jason Lane in Game 3.
La Russa became accustomed to playing without a full lineup during the season, when he managed for a long stretch without four regulars and made out 139 different lineups. Now, with the Cardinals totaling five runs on 18 hits the last three games, perhaps it's getting to him.
Even the mild-mannered Eckstein did some squawking after he struck out in the sixth on a checked swing.
"I try not to say much all year," Eckstein said. "But when I say something, it's pretty right on."