Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Rockies 3

Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 8, Rockies 3

By Rob Rains

The Jack Flaherty Express kept rolling at full speed on Friday night.

Flaherty made it nine dominating starts in a row as he blanked the Rockies over six innings, allowing just three hits, to help the Cardinals move back into first place in the NL Central, a half game ahead of the Cubs.

Wearing a special jersey with “Love You Ty” on the back in honor of his friend and late Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs as part of the Players Weekend jerseys, Flaherty offered the best tribute that he could with his work on the mound – and at the plate.

It was the fifth time in his last nine starts that Flaherty did not allow a run and since the stretch began on July 7 he has allowed a combined total of five runs in his last 56 1/3 innings, an ERA of 0.80. Over that same stretch he has allowed just 28 hits and has recorded 70 strikeouts.

Flaherty helped himself at the plate with a single, an RBI, a sacrifice and a sacrifice fly. He became the first Cardinals’ pitcher to do that in a game since Woody Williams in 2002, and the last time it happened before that was in 1966 (Al Jackson).

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Marcell Ozuna got the offense rolling with a two-run homer in the first, his second in two nights and his 24th of the season. He also doubled in another run and scored in the sixth … Yadier Molina had his first three-hit game since June 20 and also was robbed of another hit on a great play by Nolan Arenado … Tommy Edman had a double and single and scored twice while Paul Goldschmidt had a pair of singles and scored a run … Kolten Wong got an RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fourth … The Cardinals struck out only once in the game, when Paul DeJong fanned with one out in the eighth.

On the mound: Flaherty allowed just one runner to reach second base, in the sixth inning, when he gave up two of the three hits he allowed …  Their first hit was a leadoff single in the fifth … Flaherty struck out nine and walked one as he won his fourth consecutive decision. Arenado reached base in all three plate appearances against Flaherty with a walk, when he was hit by a pitch and with a single … John Brebbia and  Tyler Webb each pitched an inning in relief of Flaherty but the Cardinals lost their bid for their fifth shutout in 20 games this month when the Rockies scored three runs off John Gant in the ninth.

Key stat: The win gave the Cardinals a 69-58 record for the season, the first time this year they have reached 11 games over .500. Twice previously they had been 10 games over but each time lost their next game.

Worth noting: Jason Isringhausen, Scott Rolen and the late Mort Cooper will be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday afternoon at Ballpark Village … Austin Gomber pitched in a game for the first time since May 13 on Friday night but it didn’t go well. Gomber started for the Palm Beach Cardinals but was able to retire only one of the five hitters he faced, allowing two hits and walking two, which produced three runs. He threw 22 pitches, nine of which were strikes … Tyler O’Neill played his second rehab game in Memphis on Friday and had one hit in three at-bats. He struck out twice and also drew a walk … Andrew Knizner went 4-of-4 for the Redbirds with two homers and a double.

Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson will get the start on Saturday night. Hudson did not allow a hit in 6 2/3 innings against the Brewers in his last start.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out Rob Rains, Editor.