ST. LOUIS — Turns out when a team is aching for runs any runs at all are enough when the pitching and defense is foolproof.
The Cardinals and starter Dakota Hudson spent a majority of Saturday’s game defending a 1-0 lead – and did so against the Giants under the glare of a sun and without any evidence there would be more offense on the way. Tommy Edman doubled the lead with a solo homer, and after reliever Ryan Helsley’s peerless escape in the seventh the Cardinals pulled away for a 4-0 victory against San Francisco at Busch Stadium.
The shutout was the 152nd caught by Yadier Molina.
The loss ended the Giants’ six-game winning streak, and it gave the Cardinals a momentary respite from a decline in scoring. They had managed three or fewer runs in seven of their past 11 games. Eight of their past 12 home games had featured three or fewer runs on the home side of the scoreboard.
Rookie Brendan Donovan delivered the first run of the game with a one-out double in the second inning that scored Molina. For the first four innings of the game, that was the only run of the game in front of a sellout crowd of 44,537. Hudson (3-2), undone by walks in his previous start vs. the Giants, pitched five scoreless innings. He sidestepped five hits allowed and two walks with six groundouts.
Edman's solo homer off Giants' starter Jakob Junis with two outs in the fifth inning doubled the Cardinals' lead. Edman ended a three-for-27 skid with his fourth homer of the season.
The fewer the runs, the more flawless everything else had to be.
No one has been as close to that as Helsley.
The Cardinals widened their slim lead only after Helsley walked a tightrope to protect it.
The right-handed reliever had warmed up four times in the previous five games, but as the Cardinals misplaced leads or tumbled out of games, he never emerged from the bullpen. In the seventh, when rookie Andre Pallante could not complete his appointed rounds, the Cardinals turned to Helsley with the bases loaded, one out, and the middle of the Giants’ order coming up.