Runs continue to be precious commodities for the Cardinals. After a West Coast trip where they scored seven runs in five games and, not surprisingly, went 0-5, the Cardinals came home looking to get their offense going again.
The offense didn't find itself until the eighth inning, where a four-run inning, capped by a two-run homer by Marcell Ozuna, gave the Cardinals a 6-2 win at Busch Stadium, their most runs since their most recent home game. With the Cubs losing to Cincinnati, the Cardinals are three games out in the NL Central.
Dexter Fowler, invigorated by his move to the leadoff spot, started the eighth with a double, followed by a fly out by Tommy Edman. Paul Goldschmidt hit a sharp grounder to short that Kevin Newman couldn't backhand and the single scored Fowler with the go-ahead run. Ozuna followed with a homer into the Pirates bullpen, his 22nd of the season, to make it 5-2. Paul DeJong hit a fly into the left-field corner that Jose Osuna had to make a long run to get to, but once he got there, he neglected to catch the ball, pretty much running past it as DeJong made it to third on an error. Matt Carpenter followed with a sacrifice fly to right to drive in the sixth run.
Carlos Martinez, who came in to get the last out in the eighth and stayed in to pitch the ninth, got the win, improving to 3-2.
Prior to that four-run inning, runs had come grudgingly for the Cardinals. They had a chance to blow the game open at the start, loading the bases with no one out in the first. But Ozuna grounded into a double play, which scored a run but put a serious damper on trying to get more. DeJong struck out to end the inning.
The Pirates got a run in the second and in the fourth, both on leadoff doubles by Josh Bell. In the second, he went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Osuna. In the fourth, he went to third on a bunt single by Osuna and scored on a sacrifice fly by Colin Moran. That put the Pirates up 2-1.
Tommy Edman tripled with two outs in the third but Goldschmidt couldn't get him in. The Cardinals had more success in the fourth, when Matt Carpenter doubled with two outs, went to third on a bunt single by Kolten Wong and scored on an infield single by Matt Wieters. With runners on first and second, manager Mike Shildt went for more, sending up Jose Martinez to pinch hit for starting pitcher Dakota Hudson, but he struck out to end the inning.
Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson came out after throwing just 49 pitches in four innings. He gave up six hits and two runs while walking and striking out none.
MOLINA RETURN COULD BE TUESDAY
Catcher Yadier Molina is back in Springfield for the weekend and Shildt said the team was looking at him rejoining the team on Tuesday in Kansas City.
"He's feeling good," Shildt said. "We've had really good communication with Yadi, I have, the medical team has. He came back to St. Louis for two days prior to getting back to Springfield yesterday. He got checked back out, felt great and really just the next couple, three days, stay with Springfield, get his at-bats, take advantage of the off-day on Monday and then more than likely look at him in Kansas City."
Molina has been out since July 8 with a right thumb injury and is on a 20-day rehab assignment. After their weekend series with the Pirates, the Cardinals have two games in Kansas City and then four games in Cincinnati.
FOWLER BATTING LEADOFF AGAIN
Dexter Fowler gets another game in the leadoff spot on Friday as the Cardinals try to snap their five-game losing streak against the Pirates at 7:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium.
This will be the ninth game this season and third in a row for Fowler at the top of the order. He went 3 for 8 with two doubles in the past games in the leadoff spot. Prior to that, it wasn't so great. In eight games this season, he's 4 for 31 with three hit by pitches.
"Him and (Tommy Edman) have both been good leading off," manager Mike Shildt said. "So we're putting him at the top and we like what we're seeing with the at-bats. It is going to be somewhat fluid. We'd like to have that consistency of what we see in the offense in the offense but those guys are giving us good at-bats, that's all you can really ask."
The Cardinals are looking to put a miserable West Coast trip behind them, after they went 0-5 in Oakland and Los Angeles.
"Clearly not a road trip we felt great about in results," Shildt said. "Really just didn't play well enough to win in Oakland. Ran into a very disciplined team that we helped out a little bit too much with free passes and weren't able to counter that with a lot of offense. Pitched a lot better in LA, had a really good plan against a really good offense and executed for the most part and pitched really well. Maybe a non-play or two but for the most part played really, really good defense. The reality is you score two runs in three games, it's a tough recipe. You score five runs in five games, it's a tough recipe to win baseball games. Did a lot of things well, just weren't good enough and weren't consistent enough against the offense."
"I think this is why when you're all asking questions last time (when the team was winning at home), nobody was making too big a deal out of it because you know there are a lot of games to play," first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "It's the same way now. Play hard tonight and try to get a win. I think if we can play well this last month and a half, two months, we've got a good shot to make the playoffs."
REYES GETS SECOND OPINION
The good news/bad news on injured pitcher Alex Reyes is that he's not getting better, but he's also not getting worse. He saw team doctors on Friday and the team is sending him to get a second opinion on why the pain in his right shoulder persists.
"He's been seen and it looks like nothing has changed dramatically one way or the other but the good news is there's nothing more significant," Shildt said. "We've encouraged Alex to get another opinion to look at it, feel comfortable about it, which he will take another opinion, and that will be done soon. I can't give you the exact day on it, but he's going to get a second opinion but from everything we've seen from our medical side, he's just not recovered and taken the next step forward but nothing's gone backward."
Friday is Shildt's 51st birthday. The quality of the day will depend on the outcome of the game.
"I get to have the greatest job in the world," he said. "I show up and get to interact with a great group of guys and staff in a beautiful setting in St. Louis. Ultimately it's about shaking hands at the end of the game to celebrate it.
"If I lose, it's a bad day, period, no matter what day it is. Clearly you want to win a game."
1. Fowler cf
2. Edman rf
3. Goldschmidt 1b
4. Ozuna lf
5. DeJong ss
6. Carpenter 3b
7. Wong 2b
8. Wieters c
9. Hudson p
1. Frazier 2b
2. Reynolds rf
3. Marte cf
4. Bell 1b
5. Osuna lf
6. Moran 3b
7. Newman ss
8. Stallings c
9. Archer p