The race for the National League Central Division hasn't yet been decided. But the St. Louis Cardinals were finally able Saturday to carve out some breathing room.
They defeated the Cincinnati Reds handily at Busch Stadium while the Milwaukee Brewers were able to put up a run in the top of the ninth inning in Pittsburgh and make it stand up in the bottom half of the inning.
The result is that the Redbirds stand 3 1/2 games ahead of the Pirates. They have seven games left to play and the Pittsburghers have eight. That means if the Cardinals can win three of their remaining six games against the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks that the Pirates would have to win seven of eight against the Atlanta Braves and Reds just to tie.
St. Louis beat Cincinnati 8-4 despite the fact that Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter were out sick. Catcher Yadier Molina played first base, Daniel Descalso played third and Tony Cruz took over behind the plate.
The move paid off in a big way when Cruz broke the game open in the second inning with a two-out, three-run home run. Molina chipped in two hits and two walks and scored a run.
Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk supplied the rest of the fire power. Wong was 3-for-3 with a walk. He hit a home run, drove in two and scored twice. Grichuk pinch hit for Oscar Taveras in the sixth inning and blasted a towering home run deep into the left centerfield bleachers.
Michael Wacha started the game for the Cardinals after being briefly sidelined in his return from shoulder troubles. He looked better than the last time out, but he still didn't seem to have much of a feel for his change-up and struggled at times. He fell just short of qualifying for a win, leaving the game after 4 2/3 innings pitched with two runs allowed on six hits. He walked none but struck out only one.
Jason Motte, charitably, got the victory for recording the last out in the fifth inning.
Lance Lynn will get the start Sunday against Alfredo Simon.