Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Phillies 6

Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Phillies 6

By Rob Rains

Nolan Arenado’s first swing of the day helped the Cardinals make history. His last swing gave them a victory.

After hitting for the cycle on Friday night, Arenado started off Saturday with a two-run homer in the first inning. By the time Phillies starter Kyle Gibson had thrown 11 more pitches, Arenado had become part of something that had never been doing before in the major leagues.

Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez and Dylan Carlson followed Arenado’s homer with three more consecutive homers – the first time ever that a team hit four consecutive homers in the first inning.

It was the 11th time a team had hit four consecutive homers, but the first time the Cardinals had hit more than three in a row in their long, storied history.

The Cardinals could not hold that 5-0 lead, however, and it took Arenado’s second homer of the day, this time leading off the ninth inning, to snap a 6-6 tie and give them the victory.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: After hitting the four home runs in the first, the Cardinals had only three more hits until Arenado’s homer in the ninth, his third in eight at-bats in the first two games of the series and his 17th of the year … Prior to this series Arenado had a total of four career homers in 89 at-bats in Philadelphia … The Cardinals had the bases loaded with nobody out in the fifth but could only score one run, on a two-out walk to Lars Nootbaar … The five homers were the most by the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park since they hit six on July 15. 2007 and was their second five-homer game this season.

On the mound: Staked to the quick 5-0 lead, Matthew Liberatore failed to get through the third inning, allowing seven hits and charged with five runs, two scoring after he left the game and was replaced by Zack Thompson … Jordan Hicks returned from the injured list and worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits … A leadoff walk in the sixth by Packy Naughton led to the Phillies sixth run, which scored on a hit allowed by Junior Fernandez … Ryan Helsley pitched the final two innings, striking out five and walking one. Helsley has now struck out 50 of the 118 hitters he has faced this season.

Key stat: Arenado’s second homer of the day was the 13th hit by the Cardinals in the ninth inning this season. The only team with more is the Yankees with 14. Arenado leads the Cardinals with three.  Their total has come in 226 at-bats; last season they hit a total of 13 home runs in 431 at-bats in the ninth inning.

Worth noting: The combined age of Liberatore and Ivan Herrera, 44, was the youngest pitcher-catcher combination to start a game for the Cardinals since Jerry Reuss, 22, and Ted Simmons, 21, in 1971 … To activate Hicks and add Liberatore to the roster, the Cardinals optioned Jake Woodford to Memphis and designated Nick Wittgren for assignment … The last time the Cardinals hit three consecutive home runs in an inning was in September 2002 (Eli Marrero, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols) … In his second rehab start for Memphis, Steven Matz allowed one run on four hits over three innings. He struck out three and did not walk a batter, throwing 33 of his 45 pitches for strikes.

Looking ahead: Adam Wainwright will get the start on Sunday night in the final game of the series, which will be broadcast on ESPN.

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.