Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday allowed following Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates that he is in a bad place at the plate right now.

The Cardinals' No. 3 hitter saw his average dip to .194 on a night when he struck out in all three at-bats, including a pivotal eighth-inning plate appearance with the tying run in scoring position.

Holliday walked in Saturday's first appearance against Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett. Having struggled to maintain plate discipline during his skid, he became clearly bothered when called out on strikes by plate umpire Jim Reynolds in the third inning.

"It's a hard job. I get it. I'm trying to do the best I can," Holliday said. "When it's the third strike, that's the one that hurts. When it's the first or second strike you've still got a chance to overcome calls that are borderline or off."

His first-inning walk was Holliday's first since April 8 — the Cardinals' fourth game of the season. His final two at-bats appeared to deteriorate. The eighth-inning chance became a five-pitch strikeout in which he fell behind reliever Jason Grilli 0-2 and fouled off two pitches before striking out.

"It's the nature of the beast. When things start to not go well, you try to force the issue," manager Mike Matheny said. "Even though he has trusted his approach for the most part, the lack of results sometimes make you get a little overaggressive."

Holliday has endured as many strikeouts (13) as he has produced hits in 64 at-bats. Though Matheny was complimentary of Reynolds' strike zone Saturday, he thought the third-inning call on Holliday an exception.

"That particular pitch from the side didn't look like a good pitch," Matheny said. "But you can't let one pitch change the game. Yet it seems to have happened to Matt a lot. I've seen some high strikes called on him that seemed out of the ordinary for the strike zone set that day. I don't think he's one who'd go out there saying that, but I'm saying it for him because it's happened more often to him more than anybody else."

Said Holliday: "I've had some calls go against me that, had they gone the other way, might have helped my at-bats. You don't want to make an excuse. It's not an excuse."