ST. LOUIS — Lost in the dominant shutout tossed by Adam Wainwright Saturday night was some good situational hitting by the St. Louis Cardinals in the bottom of the third inning.
Four consecutive hitters stepped to the plate with a man at second and no outs. Aledmys Diaz walked. Stephen Piscotty doubled home two runs. Randal Grichuk doubled in Piscotty, and Matt Adams singled Grichuk home.
That sequence sealed St. Louis' 5-0 win over the Miami Marlins, setting up Sunday's rubber game between the National League wild-card hopefuls in Busch Stadium.
“Those guys weren't going up there, just giving themselves up to move the runner over,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “They had good, solid at-bats, took good passes at the ball.”
Piscotty, Grichuk and Tommy Pham — the team's outfield of the future, the outfielders that management bet on in the offseason when Jason Heyward left for the Chicago Cubs — combined for five hits, three runs and three RBIs in 12 plate appearances, drawing a pair of walks as well.
While Matheny seems willing to give veteran Matt Holliday every chance to regain his form, despite Holliday's average dropping to .237 after going 0-for-4 Friday night, Pham is elbowing his way into the conversation.
Pham has notched extra-base hits in four straight games and is 5-for-8 in this series, cracking two homers Friday night. Limited to 53 big league at-bats after missing nearly 2 1/2 months with an oblique injury suffered on Opening Day in Pittsburgh and a month-long stint in the minors, Pham is showing his vast ability.
“He's playing an exciting style of baseball, too,” Matheny said. “Lots of speed, lots of power. He's making the most of it.”
Pham should be back in the lineup Sunday when Miami (48-42) marches lefty Adam Conley (6-5, 3.62) to the mound. Conley is coming off a 4-2 win July 9 over the Cincinnati Reds, and averages nearly a strikeout an inning, although he also issues nearly four walks per nine innings.
This will be the first time Conley has faced St. Louis in a regular season game, although he's probably seen it at least once in exhibition games as the teams share a spring training complex in Jupiter, Fla.
The same goes for Cardinals right hander Michael Wacha (5-7, 4.36), who hasn't pitched since going 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision on July 8 in Milwaukee. Wacha departed that game after being struck with a comebacker in the right heel, but wasn't seriously injured.
Even though the calendar says July 17 and the teams will have 71 games remaining after this one, there is some importance to this one. The Marlins enter tied with the New York Mets for the National League's second wild-card spot, while St. Louis (47-43) is a game back.
Saturday night's 5-0 setback snapped a four-game winning streak for Miami, but it didn't spend much time dwelling on that result against a hot pitcher who's allowed only one run over his last 23 innings.
“Tomorrow's a new day, man,” Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich said.