Left-hander Jaime Garcia sometimes can be distracted by things he should have control of and by others for which he has no control. However, he displayed unwavering focus Wednesday night and mixed in a key single, too, in the Cardinals’ 4-1 win at chilly AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Garcia, winning for the first time since April 18, had good movement on his fastball and also featured a sharp curveball and deceptive changeup as he tied his career high for strikeouts at nine, which he first achieved in San Francisco last year.
He didn’t issue a walk in his 7 1/3 innings. Garcia now has a 1.27 ERA in four starts against the Giants.
“When he’s on, he’s virtually unhittable,” said third baseman David Freese, who ended an 0-for-17 slide with a homer, a double and a single. “That’s the type of game we expect from him and what he expects from himself.”
Backup catcher Tony Cruz, giving Yadier Molina a rare day off, slowed down Garcia when he needed to and seemed in sync with the left-hander all night long.
“I liked (Garcia’s) poise on the mound,” said manager Mike Matheny, adding, “Tony did a terrific job.”
With the score 2-1 in the eighth, Garcia singled with one out. Rafael Furcal also singled, and pinch hitter Skip Schumaker lofted a two-run double over the head of Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco.
— RF Carlos Beltran was out a third consecutive game with right knee tenderness and some discomfort from plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Manager Mike Matheny didn’t see a reason to push Beltran on a cold, windy, damp night in San Francisco. “He’s been real smart (about the injury),” Matheny said. “We’ll give him another day and check him out (Thursday).”
— SS Rafael Furcal, who had two singles and a double, posted his ninth game with at least three hits. “He’s doing a nice job of managing his swing,” manager Mike Matheny said. Furcal can get too big with his swing sometimes as a leadoff man.
— LHP Jaime Garcia had a problem earlier this season with retiring left-handed hitters, who had been hitting .350 (14-for-40) against him. He found the key Wednesday, as left-handed hitters were only 1-for-10, and that was a bunt single.
— 3B David Freese’s game-winning homer in the seventh inning was his eighth of the season but his first in nine days. He showed good plate discipline, waiting on a breaking ball from Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner to hit his home run to left. He doubled on a pitch away in the ninth inning.
— 1B Lance Berkman, back in the lineup after a day off, had his hitting streak of 12 games (compiled over two seasons) snapped in an 0-for-4 night. He didn’t get the ball out of the infield.
— RHP Fernando Salas and LHP Marc Rzepczynski provided efficient relief, getting the last two outs of the eighth on a total of four pitches, one by Rzepczynski.
BY THE NUMBERS: 23— Called balls thrown by LHP Jaime Garcia out of 92 pitches in 7 1/3 innings.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Every day it’s getting better, but it’s not better to the point where I feel I can go out there and play the game to the level that I want to be out there.” — RF Carlos Beltran, on his nagging right knee soreness.