A rainy and miserable Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium could have been much worse for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Two relievers, Trevor Rosenthal and Sam Tuivailala, faced seven hitters and failed to retire any of them. Five of them scored.
But Matt Bowman rescued Rosenthal in the seventh, and Seung Hwan Oh, after some difficulties, bailed out Tuivailala in the ninth as the Cardinals held on for a 9-8 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that gave them a sweep in the three-game series.
It was St. Louis’ first home sweep of the season. The Cardinals are 43-38 at the halfway point and improved to 18-23 at Busch Stadium.
I think the guys feel like they played two today. Coming out with a win, it doesn’t matter. It was good that we were able to hold on.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on his team’s 9-8 victory that was delayed twice by rain
“I think the guys feel like they played two today,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, referring to two rain delays totaling 2 hours, 15 minutes in addition to another stoppage of 14 minutes to make the field playable. “Coming out with a win, it doesn’t matter. It was good that we were able to hold on.”
Stephen Piscotty’s grand slam into Big Mac Land in the sixth gave the Cardinals an 8-2 lead. Rosenthal, demoted from his closer’s role 10 days ago, relieved and allowed consecutive singles to Scooter Gennett, Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, with Lucroy’s hit driving in Gennett.
Chris Carter walked to load the bases and bring Bowman into the game. Bowman got Aaron Hill on a fielder’s choice, with Braun forced at home by third baseman Jhonny Peralta.
Kirk Neuwenhuis had a 2-2 count when the second rain delay, one that lasted 55 minutes, began. Bowman stayed loose in the indoor cages and was able to return to the mound.
Bowman retired Neuwenhuis on a roller to the mound as Lucroy scored to make it 8-4. Ramon Flores followed with a line drive up the middle that Bowman snared on his glove side, saving two runs and maintaining the Cardinals’ four-run lead.
“It was a little difficult, but I kept myself ready,” Bowman said of returning to the mound to finish the seventh. “It kind of felt like the bullpen, where you get hot, sit down and wait until later on. I just made sure I was mentally checked in and physically loose.”
After making the catch on Flores, Bowman began walking to the dugout before he flipped the ball between his legs toward the mound.
It was sort of an instinct thing. Not a whole lot of time to think. It felt like he (hit) it pretty good. I’m happy those runs ended up being saved.
Cardinals reliever Matt Bowman on catching Ramon Flores’ line drive in the seventh
“I’m happy. It was sort of an instinct thing,” Bowman said of the catch. “Not a whole lot of time to think. It felt like he (hit) it pretty good. I’m happy those runs ended up being saved.”
Jonathan Broxton threw a perfect eighth, and the Cardinals made it 9-4 in their half of the inning on Greg Garcia’s RBI single that scored Kolten Wong, who had doubled.
But Tuivailala couldn’t protect the five-run lead. Recalled from Class AAA Memphis on Friday, Tuivailala loaded the bases when he allowed singles to Braun and Lucroy before he hit Carter with a 3-2 pitch.
Oh, who picked up his first career major-league save Saturday, walked Hill to force in a run and make it 9-5. Nieuwenhuis followed with a two-run double into the left-field corner that made it 9-7. Oh struck out Flores, then allowed a run-scoring grounder to Hernan Perez that scored Hill to make it 9-8.
Jonathan Villar walked on a 3-2 pitch, putting the go-ahead run on base. Oh then struck out pinch-hitter Martin Maldonado, stranding Nieuwenhuis at second and Villar at first.
“The guys stayed the course,” Matheny said. “Fortunately, we got a little extra late. Stephen really came through for us with the big grand slam to give us a little more room. We needed every inch of it.”
Piscotty’s 425-foot home run, his 10th of the season, greeted former Cardinal Blaine Boyer. Piscotty is 5-for-9 with two homers and 13 RBIs with the bases loaded this season.
“It was not your conventional game, but we figured out a way to win it,” said Piscotty, adding that his success with the bases loaded happens because he tries “not to do too much.”
Just get pitches in the middle if you can. In that situation, I got behind early and fought my way back to get to 3-2 where he had to throw me a strike. I was able to be a little more aggressive there.
Stephen Piscotty on his grand slam in the sixth inning
“Just get pitches in the middle if you can,” Piscotty said. “In that situation, I got behind early and fought my way back to get to 3-2 where he had to throw me a strike. I was able to be a little more aggressive there.”
Piscotty said playing conditions were miserable.
“The infield was very wet,” Piscotty said. “I could tell early on just from running around the bases. When we came in after we won, I could see the puddles. It wasn’t too bad in the outfield, but those infielders must have had a tough time.”
Wacha gets win
Michael Wacha (5-7) pitched five innings and allowed two runs on nine hits, with one walk and six strikeouts. It was Wacha’s third consecutive victory.
Wacha made one of the biggest pitches of the game in the fifth. With the game tied at 2, he got Hill on a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Cardinals went ahead for good in their half of the fifth on an RBI double by Brandon Moss and a sacrifice fly by Peralta.