Carpenter hits 31st homer to help Cardinals beat Marlins 7-1
By STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Matt Carpenter leaped into a high-five with Yadier Molina at home plate, trotted down the dugout steps and skipped from one end of the bench to the other, slapping hands with teammates lined up on both sides of him.
It was a routine polished by practice.
The NL home run leader hit a tiebreaking homer for the second consecutive night Wednesday, and the St. Louis Cardinals won their fourth series in a row by beating Miami 7-1.
Carpenter put St. Louis ahead with a home run leading off the sixth inning, his 31st. His eighth-inning homer Tuesday helped beat Miami 3-2, and he has homered in five of the past six games, to the delight of his teammates.
“Obviously they’re fired up and love it, and we’re winning,” Carpenter said. “We’ve played really well the last few series, so there’s a lot of excitement and energy in the clubhouse every day.”
Said shortstop Paul DeJong: “If Carp doesn’t hit a home run, I don’t know if we could win.”
Carpenter, who has raised his average from .140 on May 15 to .281, has resisted analyzing the remarkable turnaround.
“There’s really not a lot of thought,” he said. “That’s kind of the beauty of this stretch I’m in. It has been a learning experience for me, because when you’re struggling there’s so much thought. I just go up there, I’m looking for a pitch to hit, and I hit it and jog around the bases.”
John Gant (4-4) pitched six innings and allowed one run, which scored in part because of a defensive lapse. He and three relievers combined to retire 21 batters in a row.
Molina hit his 15th homer in the first and doubled home two runs in the ninth . The double came after Carpenter was intentionally walked for the 11th time this year.
“It’s an option for them,” Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. “We like Matt hitting, and we have no problem with Yadi hitting.”
Marcell Ozuna doubled home a run in the sixth and went 6 for 11 in the series against his former team. The Cardinals improved to 13-9 under Shildt.
Trevor Richards (3-7) allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings for the last-place Marlins, who have lost eight of their past nine games.
“We know where we are in the standings,” shortstop Miguel Rojas said. “We need to identify who we want to be, and I think that starts with playing better baseball and trying to finish hard.”
WORTHY OF A REPLAY
DeJong hit a two-run double and made a leaping catch to rob Magneuris Sierra of a hit.
“Honestly it might be one of the best plays I’ve ever made,” DeJong said. “I was pretty excited about that one.”
Cardinals: Pinch runner Harrison Bader was shaken up on a headfirst slide in the eighth inning, but stayed in the game and scored. Afterward he said he was fine.
Marlins: Rookie CF Lewis Brinson (right hip) is expected to begin taking live batting practice next week, and the Marlins hope he can return for another 100 at-bats or so before the end of the season, manager Don Mattingly said.
Cardinals: Following a day off, the Cardinals open a three-game series at Kansas City, with LHP Austin Gomber (1-0, 4.10 ERA) scheduled to pitch Friday.
Marlins: Miami opens a three-game series at home Friday against the Mets, with RHP Jose Urena (3-11, 4.66) scheduled to start the series opener.
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