Cardinals manager Mike Matheny ordered up some small ball Sunday night. Then his relief pitchers failed him, again, and his team lost 7-3 at Philadelphia.

This fiasco reminded Matheny to play for bigger innings until he can restore order in his bullpen.

The Cardinals and Phillies were tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh when leadoff hitter Jon Jay caught a break. Phillies second baseman Chase Utley fielded his weak grounder up the middle and threw the ball wide of stationary target Ryan Howard at first base.

Jay reached second base with nobody out. With lefthanded reliever Antonio Bastardo on the mound, Matheny ordered his No. 2 hitter, lefthanded Matt Carpenter, to bunt the Jay over to third base.

This move sent the “never bunt” crowd into a frenzy. A sizable percentage of baseball lovers can’t bear to watch a team concede an out.

This notion is supported by ample statistical research. The case against the sacrifice bunt is quite impressive.

Your cyber-correspondent appreciates the value of a timely sacrifice bunt, but not as much as Mike Matheny appreciates it. This man loves demanding sacrifice — especially when he can get a runner over to third base in a tight game.

As a former catcher and pitch-caller, he understands just how much pressure this applies to the hurler. In this case, the lefty-lefty match-up made the decision to bunt with Carpenter even easier.