Stanton hits third homer in four games

One night after striking out with the tying runs on base for the final out, Mike Stanton got the best of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Stanton hit a tiebreaking two-run drive in the ninth inning for his third homer in four games, lifting the Florida Marlins to an 8-7 victory Wednesday. He hammered a 1-0 fastball from rookie Eduardo Sanchez, who had baffled Stanton with breaking balls the previous game.

”I figured he was going to try to work off his slider, like last night,” Stanton said. ”People can say he should have gone with what he did last night to get me out.”

Gaby Sanchez had two hits and a bases-loaded walk for the Marlins, who survived blowing a four-run cushion and secured at least a split in all five of their road sets. Sanchez is 8 for 14 during this trip to St. Louis, with Florida sending ace Josh Johnson to the mound against Jake Westbrook for Thursday’s finale of the four-game series.

Leo Nunez gave up Jon Jay’s second pinch-hit homer of the season in the ninth, but got Matt Holliday to ground into a game-ending double play for his 11th save in 11 chances. Holliday had two hits and an RBI and leads the NL with a .413 average.

”He faced (Albert) Pujols, he faced Holliday,” Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ”Once a while you’ve going to hit home runs against him. But he’s been doing a great job.”

Emilio Bonifacio and Omar Infante had three hits apiece after switching places in the Florida order, Bonifacio moving up to second and Infante down to seventh because of a 4-for-30 slump.

Sanchez (1-1) had Hanley Ramirez down 0-2 before walking him on a full count to start the ninth. With one out, Stanton hit his fifth homer of the season to straightaway center.

”His power is just out the door,” Rodriguez said. ”That was pretty much straight center field against a very good pitcher.”

Mike Dunn (2-1) got six straight outs in the seventh and eighth for the Marlins, whose 19-10 start is the best in franchise history. They’re 16-0 when they hit a home run.

Pujols is 0 for 4 with the bases loaded after grounding into a force play against Brian Sanches with the game tied in the sixth inning. That cost Chris Carpenter, coming off his first winless month when healthy in six seasons with St. Louis, a chance at his first victory despite one of his shakier efforts.

Carpenter gutted out six innings and gave up six runs, four earned, and 10 hits. A 16-game winner last year, he’s 0-2 with five high quality starts in seven outings.

”Obviously it’s not what I’m looking for,” Carpenter said. ”There’s all kinds of things I could have done better.”

The Cardinals committed a season-worst four errors – all in the first four innings – with two each by Carpenter and catcher Yadier Molina. Both had a miscue in the Marlins’ two-run first, leading to an unearned run, and two runs scored on Molina’s wild throw to first on a home-to-first double-play attempt on Stanton’s grounder during Florida’s four-run third.

”We created some rough moments for ourselves, no doubt about it,” manager Tony La Russa said. ”If you watched the game closely, we had a couple really tough breaks go against us.”

Bonifacio clipped Molina as he released the throw. Carpenter and Ramirez had a nasty exchange after Ramirez flied out to end the fourth, but Carpenter said it had been a misunderstanding.

”I thought he went way out of his way to get Yaddy,” Carpenter said of Bonifacio. ”I didn’t see it live as it looks on video, it wasn’t anything cheap. Hanley was staring me down, for what I don’t know, and I told him to stop looking at me.”

Bonifacio and Infante were a combined 6 for 6 with an RBI in the first five innings. Bonifacio is 12 for 27 over his last seven games and is batting .350.

Marlins starter Javier Vazquez couldn’t hold a 6-2 third-inning lead, departing after 5 2-3 innings. He’s allowed at least one first-inning run in all six starts.

NOTES: Before this year, Carpenter had been 12-3 the opening month with St. Louis. … Cardinals RHP Kyle Lohse is on track to make his next start, moving past a bruised right shin from getting struck by a liner on Monday. … Marlins starting pitchers are 11-4, the fewest losses in the majors. … Florida was 0 for 2 with the bases loaded but is batting .500 (18 for 36) in that situation with a major league-best three grand slams. … RF Stanton nearly made a spectacular catch on Allen Craig’s foul liner in the fifth, the ball glancing off his glove as he tumbled into the stands. ”I should have caught the dang ball,” Stanton said. ”I knocked someone’s beer out of their hands.”