Cards’ five-run seventh falls short as Braves complete sweep

Ronald Acuña Jr. slides safely after José Martínez throws home instead of attempting to turn the double-play.
AP/Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

ST. LOUIS  — Mike Foltynewicz loves trying to one-up his fellow hurlers in the Atlanta Braves’ red-hot pitching rotation.

He kept even with cohorts by tossing five shutout innings and Freddie Freeman homered as the Atlanta Braves held off the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 on Sunday.

“It’s like a friendly competition with a fun group of guys,” Foltynewicz said. “It’s a good vibe.”

The Braves outscored St. Louis 22-10 in sweeping a three-game series in St. Louis for the first time since May 11-13, 2012.

Tommy Pham homered for St. Louis, which has lost four in a row. The Cardinals scored five times in the seventh to rally from a 6-0 deficit.

Foltynewicz matched Julio Teheran and Max Fried to post the Braves’ third successive scoreless appearance by a starter. Teheran tossed six scoreless innings in a 5-1 win Friday. Fried did not allow a run in 6 2/3 innings of an 11-4 victory Saturday.

“They’ve been awesome,” said Atlanta infielder Charlie Culberson, who had two hits and drove in two runs Sunday. “It makes it easier for us (hitters). A little bit more relaxed for us going up there.”

Foltynewicz (6-4) surrendered one hit — a fourth-inning single to Marcell Ozuna. He struck out nine and walked three in an 86-pitch outing.

“He never gave in, he kept grinding,” manager Brian Snitker said.

Foltynewicz has allowed just two hits and one run over 10 innings in two outings since coming off the disabled list with tightness in his right tricepts June 25.

“He was kind of wildly effective,” St. Louis infielder Kolten Wong said. “When you’re throwing as hard as he was, it makes it tough.”

The Braves’ three starters allowed seven hits over 17 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts in the series.

“We’ve been feeding off each other,” Foltynewicz said. “We’re always pulling for each other, pushing each other, asking questions. We hang around together and you can see that we take it out to the mound. It’s been a really fun time.”

A.J. Minter picked up his third save in as many tries by setting the side down in order in the ninth. He has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances.

Freeman’s 16th homer of the season, a two-run drive, pushed the lead to 3-0 in the sixth. The blow highlighted a five-run uprising that also included a run-scoring hit from Culberson.

Pham hit a three-run homer off Peter Moylan in the seventh to bring the Cardinals to within 6-5.

St. Louis starter John Gant (2-3) allowed four runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings.

“I’ve definitely got to do better,” Gant said. “Came out on the losing end, so anytime that happens, improvements need to be made.”

Francisco Peña had a two-run single in the seventh for St. Louis, which will play 17 of its next 20 games on the road.

The Braves have been in first place or tied for first in 60 of the last 62 days. They kicked off their 10-game road trip in style.

“To come out and win the first three games, that’s really nice,” Culberson said. “But this series is done. We took care of business. Time to move on.”

Atlanta infielder Ozzie Albies extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: C Tyler Flowers returned to the starting lineup after missing Saturday’s game. He suffered a muscle cramp in the sixth inning of Friday’s 5-1 win.

Cardinals: RHP Luke Gregerson began a rehab stint with Triple-A Memphis on Sunday. He did not allow a hit over one inning. Gregerson was placed on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder impingement May 16.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martínez (4-4, 3.22) takes on Arizona LHP Robbie Ray (3-0, 4.01) in the opener of a three-game series in Arizona that kicks off a nine-game road trip. Martínez is 2-0 in three starts at Chase Field.