ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It took Adam Wainwright to keep them in the game. It took Matt Holliday to get them the lead.
It took the bullpen cleaning its own mess to get the win.
The St. Louis Cardinals held on for a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Tropicana Field. The Cardinals had only three hits against starter Jake Odorizzi, but one of them left the ballpark and that was enough to counter the runners the Rays had all over the bases during the evening but never any closer to home than 90 feet.
Wainwright pitched seven shutout innings before handing the ball to the bullpen after 92 pitches. The bullpen would eventually load the bases before wiggling free without allowing a run.
Rosenthal pitched an eventful ninth. But a scoreless one.
The three consecutive shutouts are a first on the road since 1964.
Holliday hit his fourth home run of the season in the sixth inning off Odorizzi for the only run of the game. Odorizzi had taken a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and he allowed only one hit out of the infield in the first 5 2/3 innings of his start. He finished with five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Wainwright had two strikeouts in his seven innings.
The Cardinals' starters have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings.
While Wainwright did most of the work to keep the Rays scoreless through seven innings, it was the bullpen that secured the win.
To be fair, the bullpen also put it in jeopardy.
The Cardinals' ace had pitched around seven hits allowed in seven scoreless innings, and he had thrown only 92 pitches to that point. The schedule had given him an extra day of rest before tonight's start and he'll get another day of rest before the next one, so the move to remove him from the shutout seemed curious at the time. He has been ill at times this season with a head cold and flu. (Wainwright and Matheny later explained that the move was partially because of how Wainwright didn't have his best stuff and had pieced together what he had to even get to the point.) It quickly appeared to also be costly.
While Wainwright wasn't dominant through his seven innings, he was tricky and he was getting better in the middle innings.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to his new bullpen setup with Pat Neshek as the setup man. Neshek allowed both of the runners he faced at the start of the eighth inning to reach base. The tying run got to second after a double, and he hit a batter to put the go-ahead run on base too. The Cardinals would hit two batters in the inning--one by Neshek and one by Trevor Rosenthal to load the bases. In between, Sam Freeman got two critical outs.
He struck out James Loney for the first out of the inning, and he got righthanded batter Ben Zobrist to line out to left field on a 3-1 pitch. Freeman had fallen behind 3-0 to Zobrist before getting the out. Freeman got two of the three outs in the inning, and Rosenthal came in when the Rays went to a pinch-hitter. The Cardinals' closer grazed the forearm of pinch-hitter Jerry Sands to load the bases.
The Cardinals challenged the call at the plate.
After a 1 minute, 51 second delay, the HBP stood.
Rosenthal needed three pitches after that to end the inning and keep the Rays scoreless. He got ahead 0-2 on Matt Joyce, and then the Rays' outfielder skied a fly ball that Jhonny Peralta caught to strand three runners. It was the second time in the game that the Rays had left the bases loaded without scoring a run.
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