Cardinals searching for more of the same after Tuesday’s walk-off thriller

Entering the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s game with the Chicago White Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals had scored three runs in 32 innings.

After being swept in Pittsburgh, they were three outs away from losing 2-1 to James Shields, who entered the game with a 6.14 ERA.

Then St. Louis suddenly barreled up three Joakim Soria pitches in the ninth. Matt Carpenter homered to tie the score. Marcell Ozuna doubled off the top of the wall in right-center and Yadier Molina laced a game-winning single to left.

The Cardinals are hopeful that the 3-2 victory can carry over into the finale of their two-game interleague series Wednesday with Chicago in Busch Stadium.

“That was a big one, a huge win for us,” Carpenter said to Fox Sports Midwest. “A lot of guys got involved. We needed it. A big comeback like that might be the key for us.”

St. Louis (16-12) is part of a four-team jumble in the National League Central. It is tied with Pittsburgh, a half-game behind the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee. It has joined the pack without getting a lot of production from some key players.

Carpenter is batting .170, even after going 2-for-4 on Tuesday night. Dexter Fowler is down to .165, while Kolten Wong is hitting only .203. Even Ozuna, who suffered through a 1-for-24 skid in April, is batting .250 after a .312 season for Miami in 2017.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who worked his 1,000th game in their dugout Tuesday night, is holding steadfast to the belief that it’s only a matter of time before Ozuna and Carpenter break out.

“They’re a big piece of our team,” he said. “I never want to put anything on anybody’s shoulders, but they know they’re better than what they’ve been doing. They want to carry some of the load too.”

St. Louis has made up for inconsistent offense with good starting pitching, and will send its ace to the mound Wednesday in its search for a sweep of the White Sox (8-19). Carlos Martinez (2-1, 1.43 ERA) has made five straight quality starts since losing Opening Day at the New York Mets.

In his last outing, Martinez permitted one run over six innings Thursday but settled for a no-decision in the Cardinals’ 4-3, 13-inning victory over the Mets. He is 3-3 with a 1.93 ERA in 14 career interleague games, but hasn’t faced Chicago yet.

Lucas Giolito (1-3, 7.71) takes the mound for the White Sox, fresh off his first win of the year. He earned a 6-3 decision Thursday night at Kansas City, going 5 2/3 innings and permitting two runs off five hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

The hard-throwing Giolito, who has issued 21 walks and fanned only 11 in five starts, was supported by five homers from his teammates. He has never faced St. Louis.

“Love to see that,” he said to “Guys are hitting home runs left and right and I’m ready to get back out there and put another zero on the board.”