St. Louis Cardinals

Opportunity to move 40 games above .500 not a motivating factor for Cardinals

So involved in the day-to-day drive toward another NL Central championship, the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t much interested in anything else.

After their 8-5 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday, the Cardinals (85-46) set themselves up to move 40 games over the .500 mark for the first time this season. They will face the Nationals again at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

“Honestly, I don’t really look at how many games we’re over .500 at any point,” said center fielder Jason Heyward, whose two-run double highlighted a five-run seventh with two outs that shattered the Nationals’ 5-3 lead. “It’s just awesome to be on a team that’s playing well.

“Everybody is just fighting through adversity that comes throughout a season. Every team has injuries and things like that. We’re just trying to push through those and stay positive. I would say that’s what’s most important to me. We’re staying positive and having fun.”

St. Louis had 13 hits against four Nationals pitchers, with Heyward’s double the only one that went for extra bases. The Cardinals, who were 7-for-11 with runners in scoring position, recorded their 33rd come-from-behind victory and have won eight consecutive games over the underachieving Nationals (66-64) at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals haven’t been 40 games above .500 since Sept. 13, 2005, when they improved to 93-53 with a 5-4 walkoff win over Pittsburgh at Busch Stadium. David Eckstein’s two-out single drove in Hector Luna with the winning run, giving the win to Brad Thompson.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny hadn’t even realized his team could reach 40 over.

“It must not be too significant because I didn’t even know,” Matheny said. “They bring in the stat pack and I throw it away, because I just don’t even need to look at that stuff, to be honest with you. We know if we’re playing well. I imagine after a season, you can look back at things like that.

“Not that I take anything for granted in how hard this is. It’s quite the opposite. I think it’s just respecting how hard this is and not looking back at all and just keeping our eyes looking forward. That’s the only way you can play a game like our guys did today. They’re not concerned about our record. They’re concerned about the product we’re putting out there every single night.”

Five Cardinals had two hits apiece: Heyward, Jhonny Peralta, Kolten Wong, Mark Reynolds and Brandon Moss. It was Moss’ first multihit game with his new team.

The Cardinals bounced into three double plays, but had four consective hits in a three-run fourth and three straight run-scoring hits in the five-run seventh.

“It was nice the way the guys fought back and ended up winning the game in the end,” said Cardinals starter John Lackey, who got a no-decision despite allowing just one earned run in six innings. “Especially coming off a long road trip, it would have been easy to kind of let down tonight. I’m proud of the guys for coming back and winning that game in the end.

“We’re winning ballgames a lot of different ways, for sure. We’ve still got some guys on the shelf we would like to get back for the end of the (season), but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the guys that have stepped up and really played well in their absence and kept the train running.”

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 618-239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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