Cardinals use quick-strike offense to beat Peralta, Brewers
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals made sure not to waste any time getting their offense going against Brewers starter Wily Peralta.
It took just nine pitches from the right-hander for the home team to record three hits and take a lead it would never relinquish in a 4-1 win Wednesday night. Manager Mike Matheny has preached an aggressive approach at the plate all season, but rarely has it been so efficient and so well executed.
"I feel like when we know the guy's got a good fastball, you know you're going up there being aggressive," said Matt Adams, who singled on the second pitch he saw in the fifth inning to put two runners on with no outs. "You're being aggressive, but you're making him put the ball in the strike zone."
The Cardinals struck out just once and totaled 10 hits against Peralta over five innings, but drew just one walk. Even one of the most patient hitters in the league, leadoff man Matt Carpenter, put a 1-1 pitch in play in his first three at-bats.
His 2-for-4 performance included a single to start the game and a critical two-out RBI double in the fourth that extended the lead to 4-1. St. Louis got eight of its 10 hits against Peralta with no outs, and he threw only 70 pitches despite getting into plenty of trouble.
Matheny said his team's aggressiveness even extended to the basepaths, where Carpenter challenged the arm of Gerardo Parra by going from first to third on Jason Heyward's double down the left-field line in the first inning.
When hitters are taking advantage of every good pitch they see and moving along the basepaths at every opportunity, baseball can look like a simple game.
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• Holliday, Peralta extend hit streaks. Nearly every Cardinal hit safely against the Brewers, but only two have accomplished the feat every game this season.
Matt Holliday may not have an extra-base hit yet, but his ninth single of the season drove in two runs to open the scoring in the first. Jhonny Peralta has done significantly more damage with his 10 hits, and he singled to start the Cardinals' second two-run rally in the fourth.
Both players extended their hit streaks to seven games and scored or drove in a run to help the Cards improve to 4-3.
• Lynn solid again. Lance Lynn kept another opposing offense at bay, and this time his teammates gave him enough run support for a win.
The right-hander went five innings, allowing just one run on six hits while striking out four, all in the first three innings.
He pitched six scoreless innings in his first start before giving up two runs in the seventh of a 2-0 loss to the Cubs in Chicago, so he had a simple answer when asked how he felt compared to last week.
"Better because we won," he stated. "That's all that matters."
• Molina heating up. The Cardinals' All-Star catcher appears to have finally found his stroke after a slow start. Yadier Molina doubled his season hit total with three hits in his first three at-bats, including an RBI single in the fourth to extend a tenuous 2-1 lead.
• Inefficient outing. The win wasn't nearly enough to satisfy Lynn, who needed 99 pitches to labor through the shortest outing of the season for a Cardinals starter.
Lynn finished his night with a 1-2-3 fifth inning but felt he let the bullpen down by not going deeper into the game. Although Matheny said Lynn still looked good and credited him for battling through some struggles, the team's No. 2 starter expects to be better.
"It wasn't sharp," Lynn said. "Throw a lot of pitches and a lot of deep counts and you'll have that. When they did swing they were fouling balls off, so it was just one of those nights."
• Wong hitless. Just one Cardinal failed to get a hit or even reach base on a productive night for the St. Louis offense.
Second baseman Kolten Wong made good contact on two deep fly balls during a tough 0-for-4 night. But he also popped out to shallow center with no outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, when the Cardinals would have wasted a golden opportunity without Carpenter's clutch two-out double.
• Busy bullpen. The Cardinals continued an unsustainable use of relievers in their first of 25 games in a 26-day stretch.
It took six pitchers to get through the last four innings, capped off by a one-run ninth for closer Trevor Rosenthal's third save of the season. Matheny used Seth Maness for the fifth straight game and said he wasn't happy about having to call on at least five relievers for the third time in the last four games.
"We can't (do that)," he said. "It's just too much of a workload. That's why we tried to keep Seth to as few pitches as possible."