Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Braves 3
By Rob Rains
One night after Tyler O’Neill brought in the winning run for the Cardinals when he walked with the bases loaded, he found a different way to get the job done.
O’Neill’s three-run homer with two outs in the eighth broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Cardinals to the win over the Braves at Busch Stadium.
The blast, over the center field, was the third home run of the game for the Cardinals as they won for the second time in the three-game series and reached 20 games above .500 (74-54) for the first time this season.
O’Neill did not start the game but came in after Albert Pujols pinch-hit for Corey Dickerson in the sixth.
The Cardinals trailed 3-2 going into the eighth after Dansby Swanson hit a three-run homer off Ryan Helsley in the seventh. Tommy Edman’s home run tied the game to set the stage for O’Neill’s 10th homer of the season.
Here is how the gane broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals did not have a hit for the first 5 2/3 innings against Jake Odorizzi before Lars Nootbaar tucked a home run just inside the left field foul pole for the first run of the game. Consecutive singles from Brendan Donovan, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado followed to produce their second run … Edman’s leadoff homer came on the first pitch in the eighth, his 10th of the year … After Nootbaar and Donovan reached base, it appeared the Braves were going to get out of the inning when Goldschmidt and Arenado struck out – until O’Neill slammed his homer over the center field wall.
On the mound: Adam Wainwright allowed the Braves leadoff hitter to reach base in five innings, but he managed to keep them from scoring until the seventh. Helsley relieved him with two outs and two runners on base, before Swanson turned around a 100-mph fastball for the home run … Helsley got the next out then struck out the side in the eighth … Giovanny Gallegos pitched the ninth, allowing a two-out double.
Key stat: Coming into the game, Helsley had allowed only one of 18 inherited runners to score this season, on June 4 against the Cubs.
Worth noting: Jack Flaherty will make one more rehab start in Memphis before rejoining the Cardinals rotation. Flaherty will pitch Wednesday with no pitch-count limitations and then is projected to make his first start for the Cardinals on Labor Day, Sept. 5, at home against the Nationals … Pujols was not in the lineup for Sunday night’s game against Odorizzi, who is one of six pitchers Pujols has had 10 or more at-bats against in his career without a hit, going 0-of-10. The most at-bats Pujols has had without a hit is 14, against John Axford.
Looking ahead: The Cardinas play the first of three games against the Reds on Monday night in Cincinnati with Miles Mikolas the scheduled starter.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains