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Cardinals Back On The Home Run Track For Their 4-3 Win Over The Brewers; Diaz, Closer To Return

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Carpenter goes the yard for a two-hole shot to challenge the Brewers 3-2 lead in the third
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Brewers had already put up three runs on the board facing St. Louis Cardinals Carlos Martinez by his third. In the first, Kirk Nieuwenhuis line drive up the middle that eluded the glove of SS Jedd Gyorko, scooped up by CF Randal Grichuk. Scooter Gennett in for the run. The throw from center to home, Yadier Molina gets Chris Carter out at third to close the inning. In the third, no outs, one runner on, Gennett sends the two seamer out to right center for a two-run homer to give the Brewers an early 3-0 lead. 

Cardinals defense went by the name of Wong to close out the third. Second baseman Kolten Wong made two stellar defensive plays to hold the Brewers from any further damage. Martinez allowed yet another runner on. Carter hit into a fielders choice, Wong got the out at second. The next two outs, Wong started a great 4-5-3 double play.

Cardinals faced Brewers Jimmy Nelson. He took out the side in his first two innings. In the third, he and the Brewers would see their lead overcome. Nelson had two outs on the board and allowed Cardinals first hit to Carlos Martinez. Matt Carpenter to the plate, 3-1 count and blasts Nelson' next pitch high above the right center wall for his two-hole shot to cut the Brewers lead to one run. Carpenter now has 19 home runs for the season. 

Nelson went on to issue a free pass to Wong, advancing him to second on a passed ball. Stephen Piscotty takes the lead sending a high flier into the Cardinals bullpen for a two-run homer, for his 21 HR as this was his first in September.   

Piscotty was experiencing the "Dog Days of August" with closing the month with a .240/.325/.452/.777 slash-line. This month, his power has returned; and, thus far, holds a .346 BA/.379 OBP/.577 SLG/.956 OPS which has been most appreciated by the Cardinals and the fans. 

In Martinez fifth, he had two outs and allowed a single to Hernan Perez. Molina, with his eagle eye and target bullet arm, got Perez in his stolen base attempt. Once again, Wong was on the money for Molina to "kill the steal". 

Nelson had his own struggles on the mound after his four runs allowed in the third. In the fifth, bases load with two outs; but, leaves the three Cardinals stranded. Brandon Moss came to the plate. Moss's bat has chilled in recent games, but has 25 home runs so far this season. On a 2-2 count, working Nelson's pitching arm with fouling off, he gets his pitch. He cranks the two-seamer, high flier, out towards the Cardinals bullpen; however, caught at the track just shy of the bullpen having another souvenir ball from their teammate. In a current slump, in my opinion, with that hit Moss is very close to recapturing his strong bat and we will see his power to realize more RBI to return soon. 

Martinez usually a pitcher collecting "K's" during his stand, only had one strikeout for his night. He had 16 GB/9 FB in his seven innings pitched. The last he had only one strikeout was 1 IP in relief behind Adam Wainwright, April 5, 2015. Cardinals defense had his back, along with Kevin Siegrist in the eighth, 2 SO, no earned runs. With rain beginning to fall, closer Seung Hwan Oh, issued one walk, two strikeouts, Ryan Braun grounded into a fielders choice to shortstop for the out at second. 

Oh earns his 17 save. Martinez, 7 IP/1 HR, three runs with two earned, one walk and his lone strikeout was handed his 14 win. Nelson, 6 IP/2 HR/4 ER/2-BB/4 SO saw his 14 loss as the Cardinals held on for their 4-3 win to split the series. There are two more games to be played for the four game series. With this win by the Cardinals, they are tied with the New York Mets for the second NL Wild Card spot and both only one game behind the San Francisco Giants. 

CARDINALS ARE STILL IN THE "HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER"

This season has been perplexing for Cardinals fans; especially, the Cardinals less than stellar play at home. However, their efforts have kept them in the top five teams in the National League. I do agree the Cardinals are not close to seeing 100 wins again this season. The Chicago Cubs are leading both leagues in wins and, in my opinion, that is why so many Cardinals fans (?) are finding more scapegoat reasons why they are dong "so poorly".  No, I won't quote some of those who are so disgusted with this St. Louis team. They don't warrant special mention. I have seen many other seasons when the Cardinals have been less than stellar, but they are my Cardinals and I will hold faith in their efforts until the last game is played and the last out made. There are 22 games left before heading into postseason. My belief, is that manager Mike Matheny will lead this team to his FIFTH straight postseason appearance since being hired for the position in 2012. Three of those years, the Cardinals were NL Central Division Champions. Fans thought our 2011 team was out of contention. I, for one, was amazed at their tenacity coming down the stretch closing 90-72. What a happy ending that season was shocking many. To me, "Never Say Never" where are St. Louis Cardinals are concerned. To the best of their ability, they are out to prove the non-believers wrong. 

GAME THREE - GAME TIME 6:00 CST, FIRST PITCH ~ 6:15

Cardinals Adam Wainwright (10-8/4.61 ERA) will face Brewers Chase Anderson (8-11/4.73 ERA). Wainwright last faced the Brewers at Miller Park, August 30. He only gave up three hits for one earned run with seven strikeouts in seven innings pitched. He is 5-4 at home with a 3.09 ERA. Facing the Brewers at home, July 2, going seven scoreless innings in the Cardinals 3-0 shutout win. Anderson, at Busch Stadium, July 3, only going 4.1 frames giving up 1 HR/3 ER while issuing five free passes with two strikeouts in the Brewers 9-8 loss. However, his last stand against the Pittsburgh Pirates September 4 at PNC Park, he went five scoreless innings with two strikeouts for a win in the Brewers 10-0 rout. Wainwright has been able to hold the Brewers to a .215 BA. The Cardinals have crunched out a .296 facing Anderson.  

CARDINALS DL UPDATE

Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz and Matt Holliday, both remain on the DL after sustaining fractured thumbs from HBP injuries. 

Diaz has been on rehab assignment with the Springfield Cardinals Double-A. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). In last night's game, "....... in the Texas League playoffs, [Diaz] was two for four with a run-scoring double in Game 3 of the series Friday night in Springdale, Ark., in an 8-3 loss to Kansas City’s Northwest Arkansas farm club. Prior to that, Game 2, suspended on Thursday night in Springfield, was finished with Springfield holding on for a 12-11 victory. This was his second full game playing shortstop. It was guesstimated that he may return to St. Louis this weekend. However, in my opinion, he will finish out with the Springfield team in the Texas League playoffs this weekend; then, a reassessment made. Per Matheny: "Realizing that Diaz has played just two games in the field since returning to action and only four overall, counting a couple as a designated hitter at Class A Palm Beach, Matheny said, “Just being healthy isn’t necessarily the answer to everything right now. We also have to get his timing right, get him confident with how he feels at the plate.”

Holliday has been cleared for a bit more aggressive rehab. Since his thumb surgery, August 12, cast removed approximately ten days ago, he was able to grip the bat yesterday. Very encouraging news of hand movement just short of a months' time after surgery. Obviously behind the rehab schedule of Diaz (hairline thumb fracture); however, his expected return is by the last week of this month. Well aware of the determination of Holliday, he will work to make it so.  

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