Kentucky's baseball team has seen the errors of its ways.
The 12th-ranked Wildcats committed five errors Sunday, and Missouri took advantage to claim an 8-3 victory in the rubber match of a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
"That's kind of the story of the game, really," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "You make five errors on a weekend, you just can't — the chances of winning go way down. And, clearly, we threw it away today."
Winning pitcher Eric Anderson, Dylan Kelly and Dillon Everett each had three of 15 hits collected by Missouri (17-17, 6-9 SEC).
Anderson (2-2) gave up three runs on nine hits over seven innings, striking out 10 and walking one.
"That guy had some good secondary pitches," said Austin Cousino, who had three of UK's 10 hits. "We had a couple bad swings. But it's tough. When you find someone with pitches like that, you've got to battle."
Cousino took little consolation in his success at the plate.
"It's nice to go out there and compete and get some hits," he said. "But ultimately you want to win, regardless of how you do."
Kentucky (23-13, 7-8) made it a battle for eight innings, trailing 4-3.
Things fell apart in the ninth, thanks in part to UK's last two errors of the game.
An infield single, a fielding error and a walk loaded the bases. One out later, with the infield drawn in, Everett punched a run-scoring single up the middle.
A second run scored on Jake Ring's single through the right side and a third came home on a throwing error. Josh Lester's sacrifice fly capped the outburst.
Kentucky wasn't all bad.
The Cats turned three double plays. Micheal Thomas and Thomas Bernal joined Cousino in having multi-hit games. And UK got decent efforts from Andrew Nelson and relievers Ryne Combs, Kyle Cody and Zack Brown.
"Nelson wasn't his best, but he gave us a chance to win," Henderson said. "I thought Combs did a good job. Kyle Cody, other than the ball he threw in the ground (for an error) on the double play was a decent effort. And it's really tough to be effective when you bring the infield in on the grass, so that's got nothing to do with that piece of it. And Zack Brown was as good as he's ever been. ... I'm not disappointed in the pitching as a whole. But you have to play defense and you have to play at a high level, and you can't give away outs and bases. And when you do, you're not going to win."
Both teams scored a pair of runs in the third.
Ring singled in Missouri's first run, and another scored on shortstop Matt Reida's error on a potential double-play ball.
UK countered in the bottom of the inning with Max Kuhn's two-run double.
Missouri made it 3-2 in the fourth when Everett lined a run-scoring single just over the reach of second baseman JaVon Shelby.
Cousino helped manufacture the tying run in the fifth, reaching on a bunt single and stealing second. A.J. Reed drove him in with a two-out single to left.
But the Tigers went ahead to stay in the sixth, when Anderson knocked a run-scoring single to left.
"There's certain pieces of what we're doing that are getting better, and that's really encouraging," Henderson said. "I'm encouraged with what we saw out of Cousino, Thomas and Bernal today at the plate. ... Happy that we've got a couple young pitchers getting better. But if you're going to win a weekend series, you've got to play defense.
"End of story, and that is the story. We've got to do a better job of playing defense in close games."
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL.Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com