St. Louis — The Tigers series-ending 2-1 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday night turned on two plays.
The first came in sixth inning when Kolten Wong jumped on the first pitch from Tigers starter Alfredo Simon and hit it 434 feet into the stands in right field. That turned out to be the kill shot.
Simon, who gave the Tigers another quality start, struck out Wong in the fourth inning on three split-finger pitches at three different speeds — 84, 85, 83 mph.
The first pitch Simon threw him in the sixth was a two-seam fastball.
"I tried to throw the ball inside, a two-seamer, and he got a good swing on it," Simon said. "It happens sometimes."
It wasn't a bad plan, the execution was just a hair off.
"We didn't want him sitting on the split," catcher James McCann said. "We tried to back him off but it got too much of the plate."
The second turning point was more of a clinching point for the Cardinals.
Right-hander Lance Lynn had bobbed and weaved his way through the Tigers lineup for seven-plus innings. With the Cardinals bullpen overworked the previous two games, he was asked to go as long as he could.
He was at 119 pitches after he walked Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera with one out in the eighth.
"He did exactly what the scouting report says he tries to do," said McCann. "He uses his four-seamer away and his two-seamer in and keeps guys off balance."
But Lynn left it to reliever Seth Maness to clean up his mess in the eighth — which he did with one pitch.
J.D. Martinez hit into a fast 5-4-3 double play to end the inning and closer Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless ninth to finish it off, helping the Cardinals avoid being swept at home for the first time since June 2013.
As for swinging at the first pitch against a reliever who on Friday gave up four runs and five hits in one inning?
"You have to be ready to hit with runners in scoring position," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It might be the best pitch you get."
The Tigers threw out two Cardinals runners at home plate.
In the fifth, Matt Carpenter singled and Matt Holliday doubled. Jhonny Peralta then hit a two-hopper to Nick Castellanos at third. He threw home and got Carpenter on a close play.
The play was reviewed. It appeared McCann tagged Carpenter on the back foot. It was inconclusive whether the front foot had reached the plate. The call stood.
"It was just a good baseball play," said McCann, who threw out Wong trying to steal second in the third, his sixth caught stealing in 12 tries. "A slow ground ball. Carpenter had a good jump. Castellanos fielded it quickly and got me the throw. It was one of those bang-bang plays. I'd like to say that I got him."
In the seventh, Peralta challenged the arm of left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. He was trying to score from second on a single by Yadier Molina. Cespedes' throw beat him easily, but McCann had to make a superb scoop and tag to finish the play.
"That would have been a big run; you have to test it," McCann said. "Yeah, he has a great arm and great accuracy, but that's a lot to field it, make a good throw and then catch and tag. You have to go for it in that situation."
It was Cespedes' fourth outfield assist this season.
The Tigers only run came in the first. Kinsler won an eight-pitch battle with Lynn, ripping a single to center. Cabrera then launched a low-trajectory missile to the gap in right-center scoring Kinsler.
It was Cabrera's 1,399th career RBI.
The Cardinals tied it in the third. Peter Bourjos laced a triple to left-center and scored on a single by Lynn.
"You always want to win the series," Ausmus said. "Certainly playing against this Cardinals team and winning two out of three on the road is somewhat satisfying."