Cardinals offense takes out frustrations on Phillies
A matchup with an inexperienced pitcher and baseball's worst team turned out to be exactly what the Cardinals' offense needed to break out of its funk.
Even after Phillippe Aumont's disastrous four innings in his first major league start, St. Louis kept piling up the runs and hits for a much-needed 12-4 win over Philadelphia. The Cardinals set a new season high and surpassed their run total over their past five games combined to put the brakes on a two-game losing streak.
"We've struggled a little bit on the offensive side lately," Randal Grichuk told reporter Jim Hayes during the Cardinals Live postgame show on FOX Sports Midwest. "It was good to come out here and score some runs."
Grichuk led the way with three of St. Louis' 16 hits, including a solo home run off Justin De Fratus in the sixth inning. The young outfielder took the day off Thursday in Minnesota and entered the weekend series batting just .239 with one home run in June.
Yadier Molina stayed hot and started the scoring with a two-run home run in the second inning, his second of the season. He left early to rest and finished 2 for 3 with a walk to raise his average to .476 during a six-game hit streak.
All nine Cardinals in the starting lineup got at least one hit, including two singles to go with a walk for starting pitcher Tyler Lyons. Mark Reynolds came up about a foot short of his sixth home run for a two-run RBI double off De Fratus to put St. Louis up 11-0 in the fifth inning, and the Phillies never retired Matt Carpenter in four plate appearances.
The All-Star third baseman looks to be rounding back into form with six hits in 12 at-bats over the past four games. Kolten Wong hit a two-run home run in the second to break out of a 1-for-16 skid, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta had just two hits in his past 20 at-bats before a two-run double in the fourth.
"I think we catch heat sometimes when you can't put up the big offensive numbers and you know that a lineup like this it's going to happen," manager Mike Matheny told reporters during the postgame show. "It comes back to being able to score more than the other guy. We've been able to do that quite a bit, but it's good to see these kind of days to give everybody a good shot in the arm confidence-wise about our offense."
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• All the walks. St. Louis took full advantage of Aumont's well documented inability to find the strike zone.
The right-hander, who walked 41 in 65 innings for Triple A Lehigh Valley, issued seven free passes to the Cardinals, and they finished with a season-high 10 walks. Carpenter jogged to first after watching ball four in his first three at-bats, and even Grichuk drew an unintentional walk, something he hadn't done in 72 official at-bats.
"I think we're the kind of team that's going to make you get on the plate and take the walks," Matheny said. "Carpenter's first three at-bats were pretty indicative of that."
• Lyons solid. Lyons shut out the Phillies for his first four innings to cruise to a second straight win.
The left-hander told reporters during the postgame show that it felt like a grind and he never felt at his best. Nonetheless, he walked just one and gave up only seven hits to once again demonstrate the organization's impressive pitching depth.
"He was able to pitch his way through it, which is something he hasn't been able to do in the past," Matheny said. "Tyler had a real nice fastball today, and the slider seemed to disappear, especially for their left-handed hitters and they had a tough time laying off it."
• Garcia delivers. The Cardinals called up Greg Garcia on Friday to hit, and he did just that in his first major league at-bat of 2015.
The 25-year-old middle infielder doubled his career hit total in the big leagues by lining a single to right in the sixth inning and hustling to first base on a slow grounder to second for an infield hit in the eighth. He even added an impressive defensive play with a diving stop at second base to retire Cesar Hernandez in the eighth.
"A lot of times we bring up these young guys and we're locked in these tight games and they go a significant amount of time without really showing what they've been doing," Matheny said. "He was our Minor League Player of the Month last year and he's on a good roll, so it's good to see him while he's hot and he had a couple good at-bats."
• Cardinal killer. Veteran first baseman Ryan Howard continues to terrorize St. Louis pitchers.
He blasted a three-run home run off Lyons in the fifth inning to raise his career totals to 21 home runs and 64 RBIs in 62 games against his hometown team.
• Lyons' short outings. Lyons might have turned in a solid performance for another win, but he still didn't get a chance to pitch in the fifth inning.
The lefty had thrown five innings or less in all five starts and Lance Lynn will likely return from the disabled list to replace Lyons next week at Miami. The other three Cardinals starters currently in the rotation have lasted five innings or less a combined four times, including zero for Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia.
• Kozma ice cold. Even on a night when everything went right for the Cardinals' offense, Pete Kozma couldn't break out of a troubling slump.
Although the utility infielder did well to work an eight-pitch walk in the eighth, he popped up in a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh to make it 19 straight at-bats without a hit dating to May 19, dropping his season average to .094.