Tuesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 2

Tuesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 2

By Rob Rains

Mike Shildt made it pretty simple what Carlos Martinez needed to do to retain his spot in the Cardinals’ rotation before his start on Tuesday night – he had to pitch better.

Challenge accepted.

Martinez, who had lost his five previous starts allowing a combined 30 runs in 19 2/3 innings, allowed just one run over six innings and the bullpen hung on to give the Cardinals their second consecutive win over the Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium.

The win by Martinez was the first by a Cardinals’ starter other than Adam Wainwright since May 26.

Nolan Arenado staked Martinez to a 2-0 lead with a homer off the left field foul pole in the fifth and then turned in a key defensive play in the top of the sixth that likely averted a bigger inning, making a barehanded grab on a slow roller and a jump throw to get the hitter at first.

“Anytime you can make plays to save runs or keep people off base it’s absolutely huge,” Arenado said. “I think hitting home runs is better than making a play, but they are both are pretty good. As long as they both help the team, that’s all that matters.”

Alex Reyes recorded his first six-out save, escaping a jam in the eighth, when the Diamondbacks had two runners on with no outs before he got a strikeout and started an inning-ending double play.

While the Cardinals have been getting solid performances from Arenado and Reyes all season, the quality start by Martinez might have been the most significant event in Tuesday night’s game.

“He pitched very well, to his credit,” Shildt said.

Said Martinez, “I got a lot of frustration the last five starts. Today I think was my best focus this season … They (Shildt and pitching coach Mike Maddux) made me wake up. I appreciate it.”

Here is how Tuesday night’s game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals had just two singles through the first four innings, by Dylan Carlson and Arenado in the third … Tommy Edman led off fifth in the scoreless game with a single, snapping an 0-of-17 stretch, and after Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt struck out, Arenado lined his 16th homer off the left-field foul pole … A two-out rally in the sixth added what turned out to be the winning run. Edmundo Sosa beat out an infield single, Matt Carpenter was hit by a pitch and Edman, moved back into the leadoff spot, delivered an RBI single … Yadier Molina was hitless in four at-bats, stopping a 13-game hitting streak against the Diamondbacks that dated back to 2017.

On the mound: Martinez walked the first batter of the game but didn’t issue another walk until there was one out in the fifth. He allowed just two hits through the first five innings and recorded six strikeouts, getting five in a row between the third and fourth innings. He did not give up a run until the sixth. The win was the first by Martinez since May 8,. He had two no-decisions prior to his five consecutive losses … Three consecutive walks, two from Genesis Cabrera and the final one by Andrew Miller, forced in Arizona’s second run in the seventh. It was the 19th walk by the Cardinals with the bases loaded this season. Miller was able to get out of the inning with a fly out, stranding the bases loaded … In the eighth, an error by Sosa, a balk by Reyes and a hit put the tying run at third with nobody out before Reyes was able to get out of the jam. He retired the side in order in the ninth to remain perfect on the season, converting 19 of 19 save opportunities.

Key stat: The Diamondbacks were just 2-of-10 with runners in scoring position after going hitless in 10 at-bats with a runner on second or third on Monday night, adding up to a combined 2-of-20 in the first two games of the series.

Worth noting: The Cardinals will reach the halfway point of the season on Wednesday, playing their 81st game … Harrison Bader had a double and walked in his first rehab game at Memphis on Tuesday night before the game was suspended because of problems with the pitching mound. In his first game at the Triple A level, Nolan Gorman had a single and walk in his three plate appearances … The first game for Jordan Walker at high A Peoria was put on hold when Tuesday night’s game was rained out … The rosters for this year’s Futures Game are scheduled to be announced on Wednesday.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals will try to complete the sweep of the three-game series against the Diamondbacks in a 12:15 p.m. game on Wednesday. Kwang Hyun Kim will get the start.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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