The St. Louis Cardinals have a knack for doing just enough to win.
They didn’t show many signs of life until the end of their Sunday series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But the Redbirds were able to rally when it counted most and do just enough to notch another comeback win.
It may not have been the prettiest performance. But I’ll take three wins in a four-game West Coast series against a first-place team any time.
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The victory left the Redbirds with a 38-19 record, four wins better than the second-best team in baseball. The Houston Astros have 34 wins.
Dodgers co-ace Zack Grienke shut St. Louis out until the sixth inning. He appeared dominant, striking out eight and scattering six hits over 6 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, the ESPN commentators remarked all night long about how much St. Louis starter Lance Lynn seemed to be struggling.
Lynn ran up his pitch count and lasted only five innings. But he managed to allow only two runs and keep St. Louis in the game.
The Cardinals scored in the sixth when shortstop Jhonny Peralta homered. They tied the game in the eighth when Matt Holliday doubled into the right field corder to late Matt Carpenter. Los Angeles outfielder Yasiel Puig booted Holliday’s ball and allowed the Redbirds to move the go-ahead run to third base. Peralta singled him home and then Mark Reynolds doubled to create the final 4-2 score.
It was the kind of win that makes Cardinals haters claim in exasperation that St. Louis is more lucky than good.
But I’d rather view the outcome from the perspective that the Redbirds are resilient and clutch. They may not have the most expensive or highest-profile players. But they have a bunch of guys who know how to play the game and know how to work together.
While Peralta, Holiday and Reynolds made plays that stand out on the score sheet, the Cardinals also counted on more subtle performances from others.
Outfielder Jason Heyward made an excellent play to cut down a runner at home plate to prevent a third Dodgers run from scoring early in the game. The peg not only was right on the money. But it was received and the tag was brilliantly applied by St. Louis backup catcher Tony Cruz, another frequent target of social media critics.
If that run scored -- and the inning was allowed to continue with another runner in scoring position -- who knows what would have happened?
The Cardinals now go from taking on the first-place Dodgers to playing the last-place Colorado Rockies.
Hopefully, they’ll keep their guard up and the Cardinals will continue to build on their 6.5-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates.