Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 11, Rockies 4
By Rob Rains
On most of the days so far this season, Matt Carpenter has not wanted to look at the box score recapping that day’s game because he knew his numbers were not good.
For one of only a few times this season, Carpenter could look at Sunday’s results without having that feeling.
Manager Mike Shildt said Carpenter was going to start on Sunday against the Rockies even before Kolten Wong’s injury on Saturday night, and Carpenter rewarded his manager’s faith with one of his best games of the season as the Cardinals completed a four-game sweep of the Rockies at Busch Stadium.
Carrying a .212 average into the game – and an even worse .191 average since he returned from the injured list on Aug 4 – Carpenter had three hits, including a home run, reached base four times, scored three runs and drove in two as the Cardinals won for the 13th time in their last 16 games.
It was his first three-hit game since June 17 and only his fourth this season.
“It was a good day, trying to take advantage of an opportunity to get out there and get some at-bats,” Carpenter said. “Today I was able to have some good at-bats and put some good swings on some good pitches and help us win a key game.”
Edman moved to second base in place of Wong and also reached base four times on a double, two singles and a walk and also drove in two runs.
The Cardinals opened up a 2 ½ games lead over the Cubs in the NL Central and are up three games in the loss column. The Cubs lost 7-5 in 11 innings as the Nationals completed a sweep of their three-game series in Chicago.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Carpenter’s homer was his 12th of the season. It came in the third inning, one inning after his RBI single was part of a six-run second inning in which the Cardinals had five hits and two walks … Dexter Fowler drew a bases-loaded walk and added a two-run double in the fifth … Paul Goldschmidt had a two-run single in the second and also doubled and scored in the sixth … Lane Thomas capped the 15-hit game with a pinch-hit homer in the seventh, his fourth homer of the season and his third as a pinch-hitter.
On the mound: The big second inning helped stake Michael Wacha to a 7-2 lead but he was pulled after 4 2/3 innings and 113 pitches, his second highest pitch total this season in 18 starts. He allowed three runs, two on solo homers … Ryan Helsley worked 2 1/3 innings in relief, allowing an unearned run, to pick up his first major-league victory in his 13th game. He allowed one hit and struck out four … John Brebbia pitched the final two innings, allowing two walks.
Key stat: This is the first time this season the Cardinals scored six or more runs in four consecutive games. In this 16-game stretch in which they have gone 13-3, they have scored a total of 93 runs, an average of 5.81 runs per game. They outscored the Rockies 31-12 in the series.
Worth noting: The Cardinals are 10-1 at home in August, 16-6 at home since the All-Star break and 27-14 overall since the All-Star break and are a season-high 13 games over .500 … The team should know more about how long Wong will be out on Monday, once the swelling in his toe has gone down. His status is still said to be day-to-day … Tommy Edman was thrown out trying to steal third in the fourth inning, ending a streak of 19 consecutive stolen bases combined between Memphis and St. Louis, the first time he has been caught stealing this season … Thomas’s homer was the ninth by Cardinals’ pinch-hitters this season … The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 35 minutes because of rain.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals have 33 games left in the regular season, 20 of those against division opponents, beginning with the first of a three-game series in Milwaukee on Monday night. They are 18-6 against NL Central opponents since the All-Star break. Adam Wainwright will start on Monday night, followed by Miles Mikolas and Jack Flaherty.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains