Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Pirates 3
When the Cardinals left home a week ago, they were showing signs that maybe they were starting to turn around a season that so far had been disappointing.
They were still a third-place team, searching to find the consistency that had eluded them through the first half of the season.
Somewhere along the Ohio River, between stops in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, they might have found it. They will return home after going 7-1 on an eight-game trip on Friday night tied for first with the Cubs atop the NL Central.
Paul Goldschmidt homered again on Thursday, the first time in his career he has hit a home run in four consecutive games, and the Cardinals completed a four-game series sweep over the Pirates. It also gave them an eight-game winning streak in Pittsburgh dating back to last season.
It was the fifth win in a row for the Cardinals, their eighth in their last nine games and improved their record since the All-Star break to 11-3. The five-game streak matches the longest winning streak of the season for the Cardinals and pushed them back into first place for the first time since May 6.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Goldschmidt’s homer was one of three by the Cardinals, who tied a franchise record with 12 home runs in the series. His 22nd of the year was followed by a solo shot from Kolten Wong in the fourth and a two-run homer from Dexter Fowler in the fifth … Goldschmidt has now homered in five consecutive games against the Pirates, the longest streak by a Cardinal since Rogers Hornsby homered in six games in a row in 1925 … Jose Martinez and Paul DeJong drove in the other runs for the Cardinals, who scored a total of 30 runs in the four-game series … The Cardinals hit a combined total of 18 home runs on the eight game trip, five from DeJong … Wong extended his streak to 44 consecutive plate appearances since his last strike out.
On the mound: Miles Mikolas worked six innings to pick up just his second win in 11 road starts this season and first since May 1. He had been 0-5 with one no decision in his road starts since that victory in Washington … Mikolas allowed one run and two hits through his first five innings before the Pirates scored twice in the sixth after the Cardinals had built a 6-1 lead … John Gant retired the Pirates in order in the seventh and Andrew Miller pitched 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit, before giving way to Carlos Martinez. He gave up an infield hit and hit a batter before getting a game-ending double play.
Key stat: Tommy Edman was 1-of-5 with a double but also reached on an error and scored two of the Cardinals’ runs. Since moving into the leadoff spot on July 16, Edman has scored nine runs in those 10 games. In the previous 20 games the leadoff hitters combined had scored eight runs.
Worth noting: The Cardinals announced that Matt Carpenter will move his rehab assignment from Memphis to Springfield, where he is expected to play on Friday night and likely will stay through the weekend. Carpenter was 0-of-6 and struck out three times in two games in Memphis … The sweep was the first in a four-game series for the Cardinals in Pittsburgh since 2004 … Goldschmidt now has eight homers and 22 RBIs in 21 games this month (20 with an at-bat). Both are career highs for the month … The Cardinals are expected to update the status of injured Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina once they return home this weekend.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals return home on Friday night to open a six-game home stand with the first of three games against the Astros. Jack Flaherty will get the start. After a day off on Monday, the Chicago Cubs will follow the Astros to Busch Stadium for three games.