Adam Wainwright survived a rough top of the first, but the Cardinal bats put up eight unanswered runs as St. Louis knocked off the Cleveland Indians by an 8-2 count.
Backed with an early two-run edge, rookie right-hander J.C. Mejia’s second big league start did not go as planned as he was unable to get out of the bottom of the first. The Tribe bats were then put to bed early, mustering just one more base runner over the final eight innings as the Cardinals ended a six-game losing skid and bounced back from a 10-1 defeat the night before.
Cleveland claimed its early advantage against Wainwright with a three-hit first frame. Cesar Hernandez started the game off with a double to right. Amed Rosario singled to second. After a lineout by Jose Ramirez, Eddie Rosario drove the next pitch to right, plating Hernandez while putting a pair of runners in scoring position for Harold Ramirez. He delivered with a sacrifice fly to center to plate A. Rosario to give the Indians an early 2-0 lead. Josh Naylor was unable to push across a second Rosario, striking out swinging to end a nine-pitch battle that included five straight foul balls.
Mejia was nearly out of the first before things fell apart. After a leadoff double by Tommy Edman, Mejia got Dylan Carlson on a fly ball to center and punched out Paul Goldschmidt on three pitches. He got ahead of Nolan Arenado 1-2, but missed on three straight sliders to put a second man on. Tyler O’Neill reached on a single to load the bases and Yadier Molina pushed a run across with a ten-pitch walk to make it a 2-1 game. Slumping Matt Carpenter busted the game open with a bases-clearing double to give St. Louis a 4-2 advantage. Phil Maton came on quickly in relief and stopped the bleeding, striking out the inning’s eighth hitter to end the frame.
Wainwright set down 18 of the next 19 men that he faced after surviving the first, allowing only Bradley Zimmer to reach base via an 0-2 cutter too far in with one down in the fifth. Genesis Cabrera pitched a perfect eight and Ryan Helsley did the same in a dozen-pitch ninth as the Tribe lineup went ice cold after a hot start.
Maton struck out the side in the second and got Goldschmidt to start the third before the Cardinals added on. Arenado doubled to left and trotted in on a 451-foot blast to left by O’Neill. His 14th of the year made the score 6-2. Maton struck out a career-high sixth batter in Molina before getting Carpenter to ground to first.
Blake Parker kept the Cardinals off of the scoreboard in the fourth, while Cal Quantrill worked around some traffic in two scoreless frames in the middle of the game. Trevor Stephan was greeted rudely by Goldschmidt to start his night, giving up a solo homer to right on his second pitch of the game. Two batters later, O’Neill added his second homer of the game, sending a payoff pitch over the center field wall to give the game its final score.
The Indians fell to 32-27 with the defeat, leaving St. Louis with a split in their quick two-game set. The two will reacquaint in Cleveland July 27 and 28 for another two-game interleague series.
Mejia took his first big league loss. He needed 38 pitches to get through two-thirds of an inning, charged with four runs on three hits with two walks and a strikeout. Maton and Stephan both allowed two runs, but Maton managed a career-high six Ks to account for his seven outs on the mound.
Wainwright played the role of the crafty veteran to improve to 4-5 on the season. He did not miss many bats, but the Tribe lineup was unable to get the ball in play safely after scaring him with a pair of runs and another potential run at third in his first inning of work.
“You know, in the first inning, he didn’t look like he had his ‘A’ stuff, but like a lot of good veterans, man they got him those runs and he came out and just put on a clinic,” Tribe skipper Terry Francona said of Wainwright. “He threw all his pitches for strikes. He was terrific. We had a really difficult time obviously.”
The Indians will take their second day off this week before resuming play on Friday against the visiting Seattle Mariners in downtown Cleveland.
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