In a series that renewed hope in a Cardinals offense that began the season in shambles, the Cardinals continued to swing hot bats as they scored 5 runs in the top of the 9th to complete their 3-game sweep of the Braves with a 12-7 victory and bring their record back to the .500 mark.
After his decidedly mediocre Opening Day start, the ace Wainwright got into some early trouble, allowing hits from Erick Aybar and Nick Markakis to score a run before he had even gotten an out. He had some control problems early on, especially with his signature curveball, as he had walked 3 batters by the third, but prevented any further damage.
The Cardinals struck back in the third inning, as shortstop Greg Garcia drew a walk to begin the inning, and after a wild pitch and a walk-stolen base combo by rookie and hot bat Jeremy Hazelbaker, the Birds had two runners in scoring position.
Stephen Piscotty, hitting third in lieu of Matt Holliday, drove in Garcia from third with a single to tie the game at 1-1, before Brandon Moss connected for his first home run of the year, a three-run blast to center field, to open the game up 4-1.
But Wainwright still hadn’t figured out his location, and it finally came back to bite him, as Drew Stubbs, who watched Moss’ home run leave the park, replied with a 3-run shot of his own off of a grooved fastball down the middle, tying the game at 4-4 in the fourth.
Atlanta jumps ahead in just the next inning on a sacrifice fly, leading 5-4, and Wainwright leaves the game after 5, frustrated from his lack of control and 5 walks. The Cardinals immediately strike back in the top of the sixth and tie it, as Greg Garcia singled to score a pinch-hitting Randal Grichuk.
In what was quickly becoming a game of see-saw, the Braves bounced back, scoring another single run off of Seth Maness, but the Cards didn’t settle, as singles by Jeremy Hazelbaker and Stephen Piscotty led the way to a 7-6 Cardinals lead in the eighth.
After another dominant Seung-Hwan Oh appearance, who has about a 19 K/9 rate at the moment, Jonathon Broxton got into trouble with the bases loaded; closer Trevor Rosenthal relieves him and strikes out Jeff Francoeur, paving the way to a four-out save.
The Cardinals’ bats weren’t done yet, however; they struck hard in the ninth off of reliever Jose Ramirez, as Almedys Diaz clears the loaded bases with a double before Matt Carpenter corks his first home run of the year to make it 12-6 Cards.
Trevor Rosenthal returns to the mound, and despite a Kolten Wong error that led to a run scored, Rosie completed the save, completing the sweep.
The Cardinals head home to St. Louis for the home opener tomorrow.
Follow Galen Bacharier on Twitter @gbach_.
Feature photo by Associated Press.