(Busch Stadium) Catcher Yadier Molina hit three doubles and drove in two runs as the St. Louis Cardinals moved into sole possession of first place in the National League Central with a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
“We won the game, that’s what matters,” said Molina, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. “We’ve got a good offense as a team and executed when we needed. We had a good game today.”
Both Molina and Matt Carpenter each stole base. Rumor has it there may be a friendly competition between the two.
“Maybe,” Molina smiled. “We’re just trying to play the game hard.”
“We’re doing a pretty good job being aggressive and taking extra bases. That’s what part of our game is right now, we’re going to take advantage of what they give us.”
The win improved the Cardinals record to 14-9 and a season best five games above the .500 mark.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Molina continued. “It’s still early, but we trust in each other. We’ve got a good team, really good group. Right now, we’ve got confidence so hopefully we can continue playing like that.”
After stealing third base in the eighth, Molina was unable to score on a deep fly to left by Dexter Fowler. It appeared that he may have left the bag a tick early and had to retreat.
“That’s what I thought,” Molina confirmed. “I feel bad because that was a great at-bat by Dexter and then I ruined everything. I just feel bad for that.”
After hitting his league-leading 11th double of the season in the fifth inning, Paul DeJong applied a lesson from last night’s at-bat against Alex Wilson to send a pitch 413 feet over the wall in right center to put St. Louis up 3-2 in the eighth.
“Rolled over a slider, so I knew I wanted to see it a little deeper,” DeJong said. “Off-speed going away, that’s even better for me. That means I’m seeing it. I’m not trying to do too much, I’m staying within myself. I just feel good right now at the plate and just trying to stay hard through the middle. Seeing Goldy and Carp’s at-bats in front of me and having Ozuna and Café behind me, I think we have a pretty good lineup right now.”
The Cardinals have now won nine of their last ten games at Busch Stadium and used a variety of ways to score their runs.
“I think we’ve had a good focus lately of not trying to hit home runs,” DeJong said. “We’ve shown the last few games that we can score many different ways. I think that’s one of our strengths, top to bottom. Going first to third, doubles, scoring from first–all those things, taking a walk. Those are how you get those big rallies and how you really put pressure on a pitcher.”
Daniel Ponce de Leon threw five strong innings for St. Louis, allowing only a solo home run in five innings of work. After two innings from John Gant, lefty Andrew Miller came in delivered a scoreless eighth and Jordan Hicks closed out the ninth. It was the first win of the season–and first as a Cardinal for Miller.
“I think at the end of the day, the game is still about wins and losses,” Miller said. “It might not be how some people like to evaluate starting pitchers even for that matter, but I think they’re important and I’ll take on every time. There’s at most fifteen guys won a Major League game today, so I’ll take it. For me the big part, though, the big picture is just keep making adjustments and moving forward and having something good to build off of.”
Miller struck out two of the three batters he faced, including Christian Yelich.
“He’s obviously won the first few at-bats off of me, but it’s a long season so I’ve got to keep grinding,” Miller said. “He’s a heck of a hitter, so have to find a way to get him out occasionally.”
“The 0-2 pitch there was something I wanted to do. I think it’s a big game of momentum and hopefully again something to build off of.”
Veteran Adam Wainwright (1-2, 4.74) will start the series finale tomorrow, first pitch is set for 12:15pm.
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports