Riding a four game winning streak into Thursday night, the 81-45 St. Louis Cardinals looked to do something that, quite frankly, they have not done a lot of this season as of late: sweep an opponent. Against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the chance was there.
With the Cubs losing 9-1 earlier in the day, it also would boost the Cardinals in the National League Central between the first and third teams.
And that’s what they were able to do.
Thanks in part to two big home runs, and a clutch bullpen performance, St. Louis was able to win 5-3, and complete the sweep of Arizona.
The starters for the evening were Carlos Martinez (12-6, 2.85 ERA) and Rubby De La Rosa (11-5, 4.32 ERA).
In the first inning, following back to back walks issued to Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham, second baseman Kolten Wong hit a double that scored Carpenter to make it 1-0 Cardinals. That lead was increased during the following inning. Tony Cruz led off by hitting his first home run of the season, making it 2-0. After De La Rosa issued a walk to Greg Garcia, Carpenter stepped up to the plate once again, and doubled home Garcia, to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
Arizona got on the board in the bottom half of the second inning. Three straight singles were hit by David Peralta, Welington Castillo, and Jake Lamb, with Lamb’s single scoring Peralta. Ender Inciarte hit a single just past Wong that scored two more runs to tie the game at 3-3. Martinez, however, was able to get out of the jam.
The game remained tied at 3-3 throughout the next couple of innings… until the top of the fifth, when Brandon Moss came through in the clutch for the Cardinals, hitting his first home run as a member of the Cardinals. It turned out to be a two-run shot, and made it a 5-3 game.
Martinez was eventually taken on of the game in the seventh inning in favor of Randy Choate. The final line for the young Cardinal starter for the series finale: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks. After Choate, Jonathan Broxton entered the mix, and finished the seventh inning off for the Cardinals, pitching a shutout appearance. After seven innings, St. Louis still had the lead.
Steve Cishek pitched for St. Louis in the eighth inning, and made it dramatic by walking three straight batters without recording a single out. It was at that point manager Mike Matheny brought in Seth Maness to get the job done. And Maness did just that, getting Peralta and Castillo to strike out, and Lamb to ground out, as Arizona stranded the bases loaded, and Maness ensured the Cardinals maintained their lead.
Trevor Rosenthal closed it out in the ninth inning for his 41st save of the season, as the Cardinals swept the Diamondbacks with the 5-3 victory. Martinez improves to 13-6 on the year, as the Cardinals improve to 82-45. With the win, St. Louis is guaranteed to finish above .500 for the 15th time in 16 seasons.
Tomorrow, the begin another series against the San Francisco Giants, where Michael Wacha looks for his 16th win.
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)