ST. LOUIS (TNS) — The Cardinals returned to Busch Stadium for their first series in over two weeks in desperate need of a series win to convince their front office that they could continue to contend this season.
Wednesday, they accomplished something better: a sweep.
The Cardinals took the third game from the Rockies, 10-5, to finish off their first sweep since early June, when they took all three games from the last-place Phillies.
The team sent their ace to the mound Wednesday, but it was the Cardinals' hitters, not the pitching of Carlos Martinez, that led the way.
Martinez promptly put the team into a hole by surrendering a two-run home run to Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado in the top of the first inning. Cardinals rookie Paul DeJong, one of few hitters in baseball who have been as productive as Arenado lately, answered in the bottom of the frame.
DeJong hit a 396-foot, opposite-field homer to score Tommy Pham and tie the game at 2. The Rockies regained the lead in the top of the third inning when left fielder Gerardo Parra hit a two-RBI double to score Arenado and Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon. The Cardinals had a chance to respond in the bottom of the frame but stranded Matt Carpenter at third.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Cardinals put more runners on base. This time, they took advantage, scoring five runs and taking the lead for good.
Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk started off the inning with back-to-back singles. Rookie Harrison Bader, the hero in his big-league debut Tuesday, walked to load the bases. Kolten Wong drove in Molina when he hit a ground ball to shortstop Trevor Story that resulted in Bader being forced out at second but beat out a double play throw to first.
That brought Martinez to the plate with runners on the corners. After whiffing at strike two, Martinez slammed his bat into the dirt in frustration. Yet, three pitches later, he lined a single through the gap into right field and brought home Grichuk.
Matt Carpenter then opened the floodgates by hitting a bases-clearing double into right center field. Blackmon attempted to throw to home plate to beat Martinez, but his throw arrived well late and allowed Carpenter to advance to third. Carpenter then tagged up and scored when the next batter, Pham, hit a sacrifice fly to center.
Arenado cut into the Cardinals' lead in the following half-inning by hitting a single and recording his third RBI of the game. But Martinez struck out Parra to end the inning and then struck out two of three in the sixth to complete his outing. He exited having allowed five earned runs in six innings while striking out eight.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cardinals tagged Rockies reliever Jordan Lyles for two more runs. Molina doubled to score Pham, who had gotten on base with a single, and Jedd Gyorko, who had walked.
The Cardinals reached double-digit runs when Wong scored from third on a wild pitch thrown by Tyler Chatwood in the bottom of the seventh. The wild pitch was one of four thrown in the game.
Relievers John Brebbia, Brett Cecil and Seung-Hwan Oh combined to throw three scoreless innings in relief of Martinez, who recorded his seventh win of the season.