Flaherty dominates as Cardinals defeat Giants 1-0
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis manager Mike Shildt tried to find the right words to describe Jack Flaherty's one-hit effort over eight innings.
"He was stellar. He was impressive," Shildt said. "You can throw a lot of superlatives out there about his performance."
Flaherty dazzled in another dominant performance, Marcell Ozuna homered and the Cardinals — with a fluky foul ball-turned-base hit — beat the San Francisco Giants 1-0 Tuesday night.
Flaherty (9-7) carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and cruised with eight strikeouts and a walk. The 23-year-old right-hander threw a career-high 113 pitches, 84 for strikes, and lowered his ERA to 0.90 over his past 11 starts dating to July 7.
"I was in rhythm with Yadi (Molina) all day," Flaherty said. "I had three pitches for strikes. I've been preaching execution."
He faced 26 hitters and threw just 29 balls.
"I think that's kind of crazy," Flaherty said. "I don't think about how many strikes I'm throwing. I just try to fill up the zone and get ahead of guys. It's more fun to be ahead of guys."
Mike Yastrzemski had San Francisco's only two hits, the first a soft line drive with two outs in the sixth, and the second a single off closer Carlos Martínez in the ninth.
"I saw it early and I just wasn't going to get fooled by a pitch that was handleable," Yastrzemski said about breaking up the no-hitter. "Just tried to be nice and easy and not do too much and get it to find some grass somewhere. He pitched well tonight. Had command of all his stuff and kept everybody off balance."
St. Louis only had five hits, including one by Paul DeJong that looked like a trick pool shot. DeJong hit a ball that rolled about 10 feet foul of the first base line before spinning all the way back into fair territory roughly 3/4 of the way to the bag. DeJong raced to first to load the bases with two outs in the first.
Shildt said he had seen a hit like DeJong's before.
"I appreciated Paul's attention to that play," Shildt said. "I've seen it down the third-base line and the guy just gives up on it and a good player, a guy who's always going to give effort. Paul was aware of it like boom. A heads-up play on his part."
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy laughed when asked about it.
"That was unbelievable," Bochy said. "You can't do that on a pool table."
San Francisco right-hander Dereck Rodríguez pitched out of the inning and was nearly as good as Flaherty. Rodríguez (5-8) struck out seven over seven innings, and St. Louis' only damage came on Ozuna's shot in the sixth.
"It was just a curveball that didn't do too much and he made me pay," Rodríguez said.
It was Ozuna's 10th solo homer of the season, his 18th go-ahead RBI and his team-leading 13th game-winning RBI.
"I've been working on my swing and I feel like I'm getting it going," Ozuna said.
Martínez stranded Yastrzemski for his 18th save in 21 chances.
St. Louis has won 20 of its last 25 games. The Cardinals are an NL-best 34-16 since the All-Star break and entered the game leading the NL Central by three games.
San Francisco has lost seven of its last eight. The Giants were shutout for the 12th time this season. It was their third 1-0 loss.
Jack Flaherty says the #STLCards are having a ton of fun right now: "It's unbelievable. Just to be with this group of guys and have this kind of fun and play this kind of ball — nothing beats it."
(Brought to you by your @MidAmericaChevy dealers.) pic.twitter.com/1j8Xg29Shq
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) September 4, 2019
JUMPING JACK FLASH
Shildt had high praise for Flaherty before the game after learning he'd won NL Pitcher of the Month for August.
"I'm proud of him," Shildt said. "I've never seen anybody more prepared or more sincere about their dedication to their career and so mature with it so early in their career."
IN THE HOUSE
St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube and his assistant coaches sat in the stands for the game. The Blues won their first Stanley Cup in June.
St. Louis recalled OF Randy Arozarena from Triple-A Memphis.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto threw a bullpen Tuesday before the game. Cueto has missed the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. After the game, Bochy said Cueto sustained back tightness and the club will wait "a day or two" to see how he feels.
Cardinals: C Matt Wieters went to the doctor to get a cortisone shot for a mild calf strain but it was determined he did not need one. There is no timetable for his return.
Giants: Madison Bumgarner (9-8, 3.62) is 4-5 in 11 career starts against the Cardinals. He faced St. Louis in July and was forced to leave after the second inning after José Martínez slammed a line drive off the top his pitching elbow in the first inning.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (6-6, 5.07) will be making his first appearance against the Giants since the 2017 season. His 1.50 career ERA versus the Giants is his lowest against any National League opponent.