One pitch kept Adam Wainwright from his 19th win. It kept the St. Louis Cardinals‘ magic number at 10, too.
Dan Uggla golfed a two-run homer on an ankle-high curveball for the go-ahead hit in the sixth inning and rookie Sean West had a season-high nine strikeouts while outpitching Wainwright in the Florida Marlins‘ 2-1 victory on Tuesday.
“I had a blast,” West said. “The main thing was I wanted to attack those guys and I said ‘Here you go’ and got some swings, got some strikeouts, and all around a good performance.”
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Wainwright (18-8) allowed two runs in seven innings and struck out eight, not quite good enough to make him the major leagues’ first 19-game winner. He had been 6-0 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts since Aug. 8.
“Almost every night with this team that’s going to win,” Wainwright said. “The guy on the other side pitched a great game.”
Wainwright said catcher Yadier Molina would have had to block the pitch in the dirt if Uggla had not made contact. Uggla wasn’t arguing the point.
“He didn’t make a mistake,” Uggla said. “I probably wasn’t supposed to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but somehow I did and I’ll take it.”
The 23-year-old West (7-5) topped his previous strikeout best of seven in six strong innings. The 6-foot-8 left-hander escaped with minimal damage in the fifth when the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out and the middle of the order coming up. Albert Pujols settled for a sacrifice fly to give St. Louis the lead, but Matt Holliday struck out to end the inning.
“I kind of gave a little smirk when Pujols came up and the crowd went crazy,” West said. “I got a slider in at his feet and he popped it up and that was huge right there because I’m pretty sure he can hit it out of the park pretty easy.
“Holliday looked a little susceptible to sliders, that’s what I fed him, and I got him twice.”
Leo Nunez, the fourth Florida pitcher, worked the ninth for his 21st save in 27 chances.
The Marlins entered 5 1/2 games behind Colorado for the NL wild card. The NL Central-leading Cardinals have lost four of five.
St. Louis is 26-20 against left-handers, but 12-5 since acquiring Holliday on July 24. Ryan Ludwick thought hitters chased too many sliders out of the strike zone.
“I don’t like our lineup against anybody if we help the pitcher as much as we did tonight,” manager Tony La Russa said.
Pujols has five grand slams this season and is 9 for 14 with 30 RBIs with the bases loaded, and his 126 RBIs were tied for the NL lead.
The sellout crowd of 42,895 put the Cardinals over 3 million for the sixth straight season and 11th time in franchise history.They have had 29 sellouts this year.
Uggla hit his 29th homer and fourth in seven games. The two-run go-ahead shot to left with two outs in the sixth was the first homer allowed in five starts by Wainwright and only the fourth in 16 outings dating to June 26.
The homer lifted Uggla’s career numbers against the 6-7 right-hander to 2 for 15 with two RBIs and seven strikeouts.
The Cardinals had two men on with two outs in the third before Holliday flied out. St. Louis fell to 33-8 since July 1 in starts by their big three of Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Joel Pineiro.
Florida’s Ross Gload beat out an infield hit for his 17th pinch hit in the seventh, moving ahead of Colorado’s Seth Smith for the major league lead.
Cardinals 3B Troy Glaus reported no improvement in a pulled left side muscle sustained on a checked swing Saturday and remains sidelined indefinitely, which will make it difficult for the Cardinals to get him up to speed in time for the postseason. … Rick VandenHurk will replace Chris Volstad in the Marlins‘ rotation on Friday. Volstad allowed four earned runs and walked five in three innings in his last start. … John Smoltz will throw a bullpen session Wednesday and is due to start for St. Louis either Friday or Saturday against the Cubs. … Florida’s Emilio Bonafacio stole his 21st base in the seventh as a pinch-runner, but it was his first since Aug. 13. … Skip Schumaker of the Cardinals had two hits and is 8 for 12 the last three games.