Baseball / Sports

Cardinals win third game in a row

ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps they didn't need their manager tossed from the game to spur them.

But the Cardinals, shortly after Mike Matheny was run by home-plate umpire Sean Barber as the fourth inning concluded, exploded for four hits and three runs off heretofore unbeaten Ervin Santana in the fifth inning Friday night. That snapped a tie with the Atlanta Braves, and the Cardinals sailed on to a 5-2 win that gave them their first three-game winning streak in more than a month.

Matheny, who probably will be ticketed for a bumping violation, was ejected for protesting Peter Bourjos' dismissal after Bourjos had struck out to end the fourth.

But, in the fifth, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong both singled out of the reach of second baseman Tyler Pastornicky with one out and Matt Holliday, a .419 hitter with men in scoring position, doubled to right to score Carpenter.

Allen Craig, singling for the third straight time, drove in Wong, and Yadier Molina's sacrifice fly sent home Holliday despite the Braves appealing what they thought was Holliday's hasty departure from third.

Lance Lynn withstood five hits allowed in the first two innings, one of which was lost in the lights, and seven in the first four to hold the Braves to two runs in seven innings as he gained his fifth victory in seven decisions.

Again, Lynn exhibited the ability to get stronger after the first couple of frames. In his five wins, he has given up eight runs in the first two innings and only two thereafter. So it was Friday before a sellout paid house of 43,701 at Busch Stadium as Lynn he allowed nine of the first 20 Atlanta hitters to reach base and then none of the last eight.

Four Cardinals had at least two hits, with Craig, moved back to the cleanup spot in what was the opening-day eight-man lineup, bagging three and Carpenter, Wong, Molina and Matt Adams contributing two apiece.

Carlos Martinez induced a double play in the eighth and threw only four pitches to get three outs before Trevor Rosental nailed down his 12th save in 13 tries as the Cardinals beat the Braves for the third time in four meetings this season. Rosenthal struck out two of three men in a clean inning as he stopped his streak of six outings in which he had issued at least one walk.

Gold Glove catcher Molina completed his third strikeout-throw-out double play in the last two games when he gunned down Jason Heyward in the first inning as Justin Upton fanned for the 50th time, two behind his brother, B.J., who leads the National League. Molina has thrown out 10 of the first 18 runners who have tried to steal against him.

Lynn allowed a quaint infield single to open the second. Chris Johnson's grounder up the middle deflected off Lynn's left foot and sailed toward third baseman Carpenter, who was about to field the carom when, suddenly, he didn't see the ball anymore and it eluded him.

With one out, Andrelton Simmons singled in more conventional fashion, lining to left field. Pitcher Santana, batting eighth, bunted to Lynn, who got a forceout at third although the Braves' hurler legged out the return throw.

But, with runners at first and second, Pastornicky, nothing for 11 against righthanded pitching, singled up the middle for the game's first run.

The Cardinals tied the score at 1-1 in their second but should have had more.

Craig was safe at first as shortstop Simmons threw high and off line to first after backhanding Craig's grounder into the hole. Molina fought off three 1-2 pitches, took a ball and, with Craig on the move, singled over the head of a leaping Simmons.

Craig went to third and then Molina went to second on a short wild pitch. Craig scored when Adams, who had been five for 38 with men in scoring position, skimmed a double off the glove of retreating center fielder B.J. Upton, but Molina only made third -- where he stayed.

Jhonny Peralta, just four for 34 with men in scoring position, and who has driven in only one of seven runners from third with under two outs, popped up. Peralta has had but three runs batted in other than those which have scored on his eight home runs.

Bourjos was called out on a close full-count pitch and Lynn, one for 15, grounded out.

The Cardinals turned a double play on Simmons in the fourth, but there was a runner at third at the time and Johnson scored to put the Braves ahead 2-1. Johnson had doubled inside the right-field line, the ball eluding Craig briefly, and had stopped at third on B.J. Upton's single to right.

Adams grounded into a double play with two on in the Cardinals' fourth, which seemed as if it would short-circuit that inning. But Craig, who had singled for the second time, scored from third on Santana's second wild pitch to even the score at 2-2.

Peralta walked and stole his first base of the season but Bourjos, who had disagreed with some of rookie umpire Sean Barber's earlier calls, fanned on a checked swing. Catcher Evan Gattis, who hadn't handled the ball cleanly, reached out to tag Bourjos, which he may or may not have done, but Barber called Bourjos out.

Bourjos said something on his way back to the dugout and quickly was ejected. Matheny, bolting from the dugout, then had plenty to say and, at one point while pleading his case, made contact with Barber before crew chief Eric Cooper finally steered him away. Matheny, of course, also was dismissed.

Lynn walked his first two batters, in succession, with one out in the fifth but escaped still tied when Freddie Freeman flied to left and Gattis bounced into a force play. Those were the last hitters to reach base against Lynn as he raised his record to 38-19 for the last three seasons.

That's a .667 percentage, regardless of how one gets there.

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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CARDINALS


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