ST. LOUIS — These aren’t your father’s Boston Red Sox, or your grandfather’s Red Sox, or even your great-grandfather’s Red Sox.
These guys can’t hit, and that is why Boston cashiered this season last week at the trading deadline, dealing most of its rotation to contenders for the likes of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig.
The theory is that Cespedes and a healthy Craig — he went on the disabled list Tuesday with a foot injury he sustained Friday night — will give much-needed protection to designated hitter David Ortiz and second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the season’s remainder and in the team’s 2015 reboot.
Tuesday night’s game in St. Louis offered another reminder why the Red Sox retooled on offense. Cespedes ripped three hits and Pedroia hit the ball hard three times, but the offense outside of those two consisted of one hit — Daniel Nava’s seventh-inning single.
St. Louis won 3-2.
The five-hit attack, if you can call five hits in a game an attack, lowered the team average to .246 and led to a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. It was all too familiar for Boston, which scored 853 runs last year in winning the World Series and will probably score fewer than 650 in 2014.
Jon Jay’s go-ahead single off Junichi Tazawa scored A.J. Pierzynski to gave the Cardinals a win in the opener of a rematch series between last year’s league champions, allowing the Cardinals to keep pace with first-place Milwaukee.
The Brewers remain one game ahead in the NL Central division after topping San Francisco, 4-3. The Pirates, on the other hand, dropped a 6-2 contest to Miami and fell to 2.5 back.
Jay’s only hit of the night fell in front of Cespedes in left field and made a winner of Pat Neshek, who lowered his major-league leading reliever ERA to 0.78 with a flawless eighth.
It was Jay’s first game back from a wrist injury that made him miss five games.
Neshek, Trevor Rosenthal (35th save) and Lance Lynn combined to allow just five hits.
Lynn was removed for a pinch hitter after seven innings, over which he allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and struck out four. He left down 2-1, but was let off the hook quickly when Kolten Wong singled home Shane Robinson, who had pinch hit for Lynn, with the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Red Sox scored one off Lynn in the fourth and one in the seventh. The first run came without a hit after Nava reached second on a Matt Carpenter throwing error and scored on a sacrifice fly.
The second came when Lynn booted a double play comebacker with the bases loaded off the bat of Will Middlebrooks, allowing Cespedes to score.
The Cardinals countered both runs quickly.
They tied the game at 1 in the fifth with consecutive hits from Matt Holliday and Matt Adams. After Holliday doubled sharply to right center, Adams’ single off Red Sox starter Rubby De la Rosa scored the left fielder.
Holliday was later ejected for arguing a third strike call.
Cespedes collected three hits, including a bloop triple down the right field line in the second inning.
Carpenter and Pierzynski both tallied multi-hit nights for the Cardinals.
Neshek improved to 5-0.