SAN FRANCISCO – The Cardinals made a change in their lineup Wednesday night in hopes of sparking the offense and it worked, for one inning at least. But that was all St. Louis needed as the Cardinals beat the Giants 2-0 in front of a sellout crowd at AT&T Park to end their losing skid and snap their scoreless innings streak.
With Matt Holliday in left and Allen Craig in right, recently recalled outfielder Oscar Taveras made his debut in centerfield to try and get a little more offense. Taveras was a key part of the Cardinals win.
“That kind of sparked us and that’s really what we were asking for right,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said. “Throw somebody in there that can help get something going and kind of give us a chance to get around to Carp (Matt Carpenter) and get a big hit.”
In the top of the third, Taveras led off with a double and moved to third on Mark Ellis’ single that was just over the outstretched hand of Joe Panik at second base. With no outs and runners on the corners, Adam Wainwright struck out trying to bunt before Carpenter drove in Taveras with a single up the middle.
While Matheny wouldn’t commit to using Taveras in center again, he said he “wouldn’t write it off”.
“I liked it,” Matheny said. “I liked it real good for six. That was kind of our plan going in.”
The run by Taveras snapped a 26 inning scoreless streak by the Cardinals’ offense. St. Louis then added another run when Matt Holliday drove in Ellis with a single to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
“We haven’t really been keeping up with whatever it was, but we know that we hadn’t been scoring runs,” Matt Carpenter said. “But, when we get a chance to score a few for Waino (Wainwright) we know we have a chance to win. That was a big inning for us and Adam (Wainwright) did what he always does and kept the lead.”
Matheny was pleased to see the offense get some runs.
“After we have had so many games where we were just short on the offensive side,” Matheny said. “It was nice to get a couple of big RBIs there with Carp (Matt Carpenter) and Holliday to give us a little bit of a lead for Waino (Wainwright).”
After the third inning, base runners were scarce for the Cardinals.
Yadier Molina opened the fourth with a single, but was quickly retired on a Jhonny Peralta double play. That was the start of a nice stretch for Giants’ starter Ryan Vogelsong in which he retired nine straight before Peralta walked with one out in the top of the seventh.
On the mound, Wainwright did his thing, minus the strike outs.
The Cardinals’ ace allowed only just four hits and two walks over eight innings of work while throwing 107 pitches. Wainwright faced 22 batters before recording his first punch out. He retired Michael Morse on three pitches to end the seventh inning.
“I had a pretty good curveball and a pretty good cutter,” Wainwright said. “I was locating my fastball for the most part today. It is just a weird game. Sometimes you don’t get strikeouts.”
Of the four base hits Wainwright allowed, two of them came with two outs in the eighth. Matheny brought in Pat Neshek to face Gregor Blanco with runners on the corners. The Cardinals’ reliever needed just six pitches to get Blanco to pop out to end the inning and preserve the shutout.
While Wainwright wasn’t recording his usual high strike out numbers, he was getting a lot of ground balls. Of the 23 outs he registered, the Cardinals’ starter got 14 groundball outs, including two double plays. Both of the batters Wainwright walked were retired on double plays.
The Cardinals’ ace was appreciative of his defense.
“It was great all night long,” Wainwright said. “Matt Carpenter made some great plays. Mark Ellis made some great plays. Those guys were just laying out left and right. … Tonight the guys made some great plays behind me.”
With a runner on first in the bottom of the sixth, Wainwright retired Vogelsong on sacrifice bunt. But it was the Cardinals’ hard-charging third baseman, Carpenter, who made the unassisted play to tag out the runner heading to first base.
“In that situation with the pitcher bunting, I was just trying to be aggressive,” Carpenter said. “Honestly in that situation I am trying to get the bunt and get the lead runner, but he made a good bunt and all I could do was tag him.
“It doesn’t happen a lot,” the Cardinals’ third baseman continued. “But like I said, I was just trying to be aggressive in that situation and make a play.”
Trevor Rosenthal took over in the ninth and needed to work out of some troubled, but still recorded his 25th save of the season.
“The bullpen comes in and Neshek did a great job,” Matheny said. “Rosey (Rosenthal) came in and did what he does. It was a good win.”
Hunter Pence reached on a base hit that was originally ruled out, but overturned on replay. Pence was retired on a ground out that left Buster Posey on first. Posey was then retired on a fielder’s choice before Morse struck out to end the game.
As a team, the Cardinals combined for eight hits with Carpenter (3-for-4) collecting almost half of them. But, the Cardinals’ third baseman was left stranded on third base twice. Carpenter also extended his hitting streak to seven games while Matt Adams had his eight game streak halted.
“I don’t treat it differently than any other team,” Carpenter said of his .520 career batting average against the Giants. “I just go out there and try to have good at bats and do what I can to help our team win.”
The final game of this three game series is set to begin this afternoon at 2:45 p.m. With a win, the Cardinals can take the series and split the 10-game road trip.