ST. LOUIS -- The answer, at some point in the future, could be August 2019.
When the time comes for the Cardinals, their fans, or some baseball writer out there to use hindsight as a compass and retrace the timeline of when and how Jack Flaherty arrived as a blossoming ace of a staff, a starter who could either stop a losing streak or elevate a staff, the attempt will lead them back to this month, to this stretch of games that continued Friday.
Flaherty threw six scoreless innings -- and could have pressed on, if needed -- and strong-armed the Cardinals to an 8-3 victory against Colorado at Busch Stadium.
The win, Flaherty's fourth in five starts this month, inched the Cardinals back into the first place in the National League Central, ahead of the Cubs, who lost to Washington earlier in the day.
This month, Flaherty has allowed one run. That's it. In 32 innings, the right-hander has struck out 40 batters and opponents have 14 hits against him. He has flirted with no-hitters a few times since the All-Star break, and Friday started like one of those. The only Rockies player to reach base against him in the first four innings was third baseman Nolan Arenado, and he did so twice. He walked once and he took a pitch of the forearm to get to first base in the fourth inning.
Neither time did he reach second.
Flaherty struck out nine, walked the one, and would eventually allow three hits. All of them were singles. Two in came in the sixth inning, his final inning of work as his teammates' lead mushroomed on the Rockies.
Marcell Ozuna, wearing "The Big Bear" name on the back of his all-white Players Weekend jersey and his neon green sleeve for the first time all season, hit a two-run homer in the first to give the Cardinals the early lead. He added an RBI double in the sixth inning, and he finished with two runs scored. Tommy "Eddie" Edman singled twice and scored twice in as the Cardinals piled on in the fourth and five innings with four runs total. Flaherty contributed a sacrifice fly to the fifth inning when Harrison Bader's speed created three runs.
He drew an error on an infield single, sped for third, and then was able to score on Flaherty's fly ball to shallow center field.
All of the Rockies' runs came in the ninth inning against John Gant.
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