After the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-0 on Saturday night to tie up the series, both teams squared off on Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of the series. With the Pittsburgh Pirates losing to the Colorado Rockies, the Cardinals had a chance to gain a game up on the Pirates in the National League Central division.
And with power from the bats, and quality work on the mound, that’s what they were able to accomplish, as the Cardinals defeated the Giants 7-5. The starting pitchers for the afternoon were Jaime Garcia (6-4, 1.77 ERA), and Chris Heston (11-7, 3.34).
Right away, in the top of the first, the Cardinals got on the board, when Matt Carpenter hit a lead-off solo home run off of Heston to make it 1-0. But that was just the start. Stephen Piscotty followed with a single, bringing up Jason Heyward. And Heyward tripled deep to center field, to score Piscotty, making it a 2-0 lead. Yadier Molina then hit an RBI single to score Heyward.
The lead became only a one run lead for St. Louis, when in the bottom of the first, Marlon Byrd hit a two-RBI double that scored Brandon Belt and Buster Posey. After a scoreless second inning by both teams, the Cardinals got another run on the board in the third inning, when Molina doubled home Heyward to make it a 4-2 lead for the visitors.
With one out in the top of the fourth inning, Brandon Moss hit a solo home run (his 17th of the season, and second as a Cardinal), as St. Louis had themselves a three-run lead. But Moss wasn’t the last Cardinal to hit a home run in the game, as two innings later, Mark Reynolds made it 6-2 with a solo shot of his own (his 12th home run this year).
San Francisco, meanwhile, was able to score two more runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning. After back-to-back singles by Belt and Posey, Byrd doubled to score Belt, and Kelby Tomlinson grounded out to score Posey, as it was now a 6-4 Cardinals lead.
Meanwhile, Garcia had another solid start on the mound, although as his pitch count started to rise, the command of some of his pitches became more erratic. Balls were being thrown above the strike zone as the pitch count reached into the 90’s, and eventually, he was taken out as the bullpen was put to work, with his final line being: 6.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 K.
Both teams scored one more run in the game. For the Cardinals, it came in the top of the eighth when Greg Garcia singled to score Kolten Wong to make it 7-4. As for the Giants, Byrd tripled in the bottom half of the eighth inning to score Belt, making it a 7-5 lead.
And that turned out to be the final score, as Garcia notched his 7th win of the year, while the Cardinals gain another game ahead of the Pirates atop the National League Central division, by going 38 games over .500.
Tomorrow, they begin a series against the Washington Nationals.
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)