Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Astros 3
By Rob Rains
Jack Flaherty knows he will win another game – sometime. Friday night just wasn’t the night. Paul Goldschmidt’s homer came too late to help him, but it did come in time to help the Cardinals.
Goldschmidt hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to wipe out a 3-2 Houston lead and give the Cardinals their season-high sixth consecutive win in the series opener against the Astros at Busch Stadium.
It also was the fifth consecutive game in which Goldschmidt has hit a home run, raising his season total to 23.
The win improved the Cardinals record to 12-3 since the All-Star break and combined with the Brewers’ 3-2 win over the Cubs left the Cardinals in sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time since May 6.
Goldschmidt’s homer came two innings after Flaherty departed the game, continuing what has become an all too common occurrence lately for Flaherty. He allowed just three hits and struck out nine over six innings, but one of those hits was a two-run homer by Mickey Brantley that gave the Astros a 2-1 lead.
Over his last four starts, Flaherty has allowed only four runs on 14 hits over 24 1/3 innings while recording 30 strikeouts. He is 0-1 with three no-decisions in those starts.
Flaherty has now made 12 starts since earning his last win on May 14, his only victory since April 28. In his 15 starts since the first of May, the Cardinals have gone 5-10.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Matt Wieters pulled the Cardinals into a 2-2 tie with his seventh-inning homer, his ninth of the season … The first Cardinals’ run came on an RBI single by Kolten Wong in the fourth … In the eighth, Dexter Fowler drew a leadoff walk before Jose Martinez doubled to bring Goldschmidt to the plate, where he delivered the game-winning homer. He had scored the first run on Wong’s single … Goldschmidt has now hit nine homers and driven in 25 runs this month, both career highs for July. He had only five homers and 12 RBIs in May and June combined.
On the mound: Flaherty allowed only one single after Brantley’s homer and retired the last seven hitters he faced. The homer was the 21st he has allowed this season, one more than his total from last year … John Brebbia worked a 1-2-3 seventh but the Cardinals got into trouble in the eighth. John Gant allowed a double and back to back walks that loaded the bases, and Andrew Miller walked Brantley on four pitches to force in the go-ahead run. Miller has allowed the first batter he has faced to reach base 18 times in his 48 appearances. He struck out Carlos Correa to get out of the inning without further damage … Carlos Martinez gave up a one-out single before getting the save in the ninth.
Key stat: Martinez has allowed at least a hit or a walk in each of his last eight appearances but still has earned six saves over that stretch. He has worked only three 1-2-3 innings (one was a four-out appearance) in his last 18 games.
Worth noting: Matt Carpenter’s rehab assignment moved from Memphis to Springfield on Friday night, where he was 0-of-3 with a walk. He is now hitless in nine at-bats in his three rehab games. Three of his plate appearances were against MacKenzie Gore of Amarillo, the Padres affiliate, who is one of the top pitching prospects in the minors. He was 0-of-2 with a strikeout and the walk in those three plate appearances … Marcell Ozuna took batting practice before the game and is “getting closer” in his recovery from broken fingers in his right hand, said manager Mike Shildt. There still is no official timetable for Ozuna’s return to the lineup, but he could perhaps go out on a rehab assignment sometime next week … Yadier Molina is not as far along in his recovery from a spring near his right thumb. He is scheduled to visit a hand specialist to be re-evaluated in the next few days, at which time the Cardinals will have a better idea about when he will possibly be able to re-join the team … Memphis outfielder Randy Arozarena hit for the cycle in his first four at-bats on Friday night at Oklahoma City … Perry DellaValle, a right-handed pitcher on the Class A Palm Beach Cardinals, was suspended for 50 games on Friday after a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He was 5-6 with a 3.22 ERA. DellaValle was the Cardinals’ 27th round draft pick in 2018 from Seton Hall, Pa.
Looking ahead: Daniel Ponce de Leon will get the start on Saturday night in the second game of the series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains