Monday’s Game Report: Braves 8, Cardinals 4

Monday’s Game Report: Braves 8, Cardinals 4

By Rob Rains

With the Cardinals trying to chip away from an early five-run deficit, they asked the bullpen to try to keep the game close on Monday night against the Braves at Busch Stadium.

Zack Thompson and Packy Naughton did what they were asked to do. Jordan Hicks did not.

Hicks, appearing for the third time in the first four games of the season, let a 6-3 deficit turn into an 8-3 game by allowing two runs on three hits in the seventh inning and the Braves went on the 8-4 win in the opener of the three-game series.

Hicks has struggled in all three of his outings, allowing a combined five runs on six hits and five walks in 3 1/3 innings. Against the Braves he gave up a double, single and another double to the first four hitters he faced, providing Atlanta with two insurance runs. He did throw a scoreless inning in his second inning, working around a one-out walk.

Here is how Monday night’s game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals had 12 hits but were just 1-of-11 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11 runners on base, five of them in scoring position … Trailing 6-1, they cut the lead to 6-3 in the fourth on consecutive singles from Nolan Gorman, Tyler O’Neill and Jordan Walker and a groundout from Brendan Donovan … They added another run on Paul Goldschmidt’s first home run of the year in the seventh … The first RBI in the first inning came on a fielder’s choice groundout by Nolan Arenado.

On the mound: The Braves built their early lead on three home runs in the first two innings off starter Jake Woodford, who gave up a home run in the first inning and two homers in the second, when the Braves scored five runs … He was able to stay in the game into the fifth, pitching around walks in the third and fourth … The homers came in a span of eight batters … Thompson worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Naughton a perfect ninth before and after Hicks’ outing.

Key stat: The two hits from Goldschmidt gave him a four-game, multi-hit streak to begin the season, the first Cardinal to do that since Ozzie Smith in 1989. The team record for consecutive multi-hit games to begin a season is six, by Curt Flood in 1962.

Worth noting: The three homers off Woodford matched the total he allowed in 2022 – in a combined 91 innings with the Cardinals and in Triple A, when he faced a total of 371 batters … After evaluating the status of Lars Nootbaar’s thumb injury before the game, the Cardinals placed him on the injured list and recalled Juan Yepez from Memphis … Injured pitchers Adam Wainwright and Wilking Rodriguez have resumed throwing but there is no timetable for their return … Paul DeJong has been working out with the minor-league team in Palm Beach and likely will begin an official rehab assignment when their season opens later this week.

Looking ahead: Steven Matz will make his first start of the season on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.

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.