Rapid Reaction: Cardinals 6, Cubs 1

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs' offense was dormant again Thursday night, collecting only five hits in a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

How it happened: One night after they were held to only two hits, the Cubs more than doubled that total to five in this game. One of the hits was a solo homer by Welington Castillo in the third that accounted for their only run. Castillo had two of the team’s four other hits as well, a pair of singles.

In the final 26 innings of the series, the Cubs totaled only 11 hits and scored two runs.

Starlin Castro had another frustrating night, going 0-for-4, dropping him to 1-for-16 in the series. He struck out in his first two at-bats and fouled out with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning before grounding out in the eighth.

Matt Holliday had an RBI single and a home run for the Cardinals, who also got a bases-loaded, two-run, pinch-hit single from Allen Craig in a four-run sixth inning. The damage would have been worse except for a home run-saving catch by center fielder Ryan Sweeney against Matt Adams.

What it means: The loss dropped the Cubs to 3-4 on the road trip to New York and St. Louis, after winning the first two games of the trip. They are now 14-21 on the road this season. Of their six road trips so far this season, the only one that produced a winning record was a three-game trip to Washington in May, when the Cubs won two of the three games.

Outside the box: Carlos Marmol made his first appearance of the series, his first time pitching since blowing the save Sunday in New York.

Manager Dale Sveum said before Thursday night’s game that “it’s not a priority” to get Marmol in a game. “We’ve got a lot of guys in the bullpen. The other times I did want to get him back on the mound. To me, [Sunday] wasn’t like some of the other outings. He just got hit. Before he was throwing balls all over the place,” he said.

Marmol pitched a scoreless eighth inning, allowing an infield hit.

Sveum said the team might make a roster move over the weekend to replace a reliever with a position player.

Up next: The Cubs return home Friday to open a three-game interleague series against the Houston Astros with a 1:20 p.m CT game at Wrigley Field. Matt Garza (1-1, 4.98 ERA) will pitch for the Cubs against left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-3, 4.23 ERA).