The Cardinals Thursday night win over the Arizona Diamondbacks was a big one for a variety of reasons.
From a practical standpoint, the Cardinals put themselves three games ahead of the idle Cincinnati Reds. And that means when they go on the road Friday to start a three-game set against their nearest rival in the standings, their guaranteed to leave town with at least a piece of first place.
That fact puts all the pressure squarely on Cincinnati. And that's a big deal because you know Dusty Baker is going to be ready to stir the pot and play as many bully mind games as he can dream up.
From a momentum standpoint, the win kept alive the Redbirds' streak of not losing a series in their last 11 match-ups.
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From a mental standpoint, it was good to see the Cardinals overcome a pair of losses in the middle of the Arizona series thanks to a bottoming out of the bullpen. St. Louis' injury woes finally caught up to the club and manager Mike Matheny had no choice but to rest Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal for two contests.
It was ugly in the end when the Cardinals relief corps sagged and let Arizona turn a 12-2 deficit into the tying run on deck in the ninth inning. But before that the Birds put on a power display previously unseen this season.
Five Cardinals hit home runs, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Daniel Descalso, Matt Adams and starting pitcher Shelby Miller to provide the offense. Seven Cardinals had at least two hits led by Descalso who was three-for-four with two runs scored, two driven in and a walk.
Meanwhile Miller threw six strong innings, allowing only a pair of runs in the first before he settled in. Miller allowed six hits and struck out nine while walking none. He improved to 7-3 with a 1.91 ERA.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Miller
Cardinals Play of the Game: Adams' monster home run in the fourth inning
Lowlight: The St. Louis bullpen gave up seven hits and six runs over the last three innings of the game.