Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Padres 4

Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Padres 4

By Rob Rains

Brendan Donovan has had a lot of key hits for the Cardinals during his rookie season – but maybe none more important than the one he got in the seventh inning on Thursday.

Two innings after a home run by Lars Nootbaar broke the 31-inning scoreless streak for the Cardinals, Donovan came to the plate with the bases loaded and the Cardinals losing 3-1, just eight outs away from being swept by the Padres.

Donovan flipped that script with his third professional grand slam, his first as a major-leaguer, and the blow allowed the Cardinals to get out of San Diego with a 5-4 win that stopped their three-game losing streak.

It also reduced their magic number for clinching the NL Central to five.

Before Donovan’s blast, the Cardinals had scored only two runs in their previous 49 innings, one of them coming in an inning that began with a runner on second base. Not counting that 11-inning win on Saturday night, it gave the Cardinals their first lead in 42 regulation innings.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Including a double by Nolan Arenado in the first inning, the home run by Nootbaar was only the third extra-base hit by the Cardinals in 163 at-bats, spread over six games … In the seventh, Dylan Carlson led off the inning with a pinch-hit single before the Cardinals loaded the bases on walks to Nootbaar and Tommy Edman and Donovan came through with the third grand slam by a Cardinal in Petco Park, joining Brendan Ryan in 2009 and Daniel Descalso in 2013 … The Cardinals had not scored four runs in an inning since the ninth inning on Sept. 11 at Pittsburgh … Albert Pujols started for the 11th time in the last 12 games and had a single in four at-bats but barely missed his 699th career homer with a fly to left field wall in the sixth.

On the mound: Donovan’s homer handed the victory to Jack Flaherty, his first in seven starts in his injury-filled season. He allowed a leadoff homer on his second pitch of the game, and one of the four players he walked came around to score in the second. An error by Arenado led to an unearned run in the fifth. Flaherty did strike out a season-high nine batters … After Donovan’s homer, the Padres pulled within a run on a home run by Manny Machado off Ryan Helsley in the eighth, but he and Giovanny Gallegos then preserved that lead to close out the victory … One of Helsley’s pitches was timed at 104 miles per hour, the fastest recorded in the majors this season.

Key stat: The 31-inning scoreless streak by the Cardinals was their longest within a single-season since they failed to score in 33 consecutive innings between July 27-30, 1995.

Worth noting: The Cardinals didn’t score but had two hits in the first inning, matching their combined total from the first inning in their previous eight games when they were 2-of-25 … Donovan’s other two professional grand slams both came when he was in A ball with the Peoria Chiefs, in 2019 and 2021 … Nootbaar has five hits in 46 at-bats in September, but three of them have been home runs.

Looking ahead: Jose Quintana will get the start on Friday night as the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The game will not be televised, but streamed exclusively on Apple TV. The Dodgers are scheduled to start lefthanders on both Friday night and Saturday night, Andrew Heaney and Clayton Kershaw.

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.