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Flaherty dominates with 13 K's in win vs. Phils

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Matheny knew the ovation Jack Flaherty was about to receive, and wanted to make sure his rookie hurler heard it. So when Matheny made his way out of the dugout, first toward home plate before turning toward the mound, he did so slowly. And the sound of the crowd built toward a crescendo.

Over the course of a dominant afternoon, Flaherty had given them more than enough to cheer. The right-hander's first career win came courtesy of 7 2/3 dominant innings against the Phillies, against whom he struck out 13. Tyler O'Neill homered for the second time in two days, fill-in shortstop Greg Garcia drove in two runs, and the Cardinals earned a split of this four-game series with a 5-1 win.

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ST. LOUIS -- Mike Matheny knew the ovation Jack Flaherty was about to receive, and wanted to make sure his rookie hurler heard it. So when Matheny made his way out of the dugout, first toward home plate before turning toward the mound, he did so slowly. And the sound of the crowd built toward a crescendo.

Over the course of a dominant afternoon, Flaherty had given them more than enough to cheer. The right-hander's first career win came courtesy of 7 2/3 dominant innings against the Phillies, against whom he struck out 13. Tyler O'Neill homered for the second time in two days, fill-in shortstop Greg Garcia drove in two runs, and the Cardinals earned a split of this four-game series with a 5-1 win.

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After spending much of the early spring lighting up Triple-A, both enjoyed milestone days in the Majors. Hitting cleanup for the first time in place of Marcell Ozuna, O'Neill singled and scored St. Louis' first run before hammered a solo shot off Aaron Nola in the sixth. That was more than enough for Flaherty, who allowed a Rhys Hoskins solo homer in the fourth and little else, surrendering just three baserunners in a 120-pitch effort.

UP NEXT
The first installment of the annual 1-70 series begins Monday, when the Cardinals and Royals open a three-game set. Marcell Ozuna should return to the Cardinals lineup, while Miles Mikolas (5-0, 2.63) opposes Ian Kennedy (1-4, 4.98) on the hill. First pitch comes at 7:15 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Flaherty

Cards honorary bat girl a lifelong St. Louis fan

Koke, a breast cancer survivor, calls Busch Stadium experience 'one of the top five days of my life'
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- At first, Kathy Koke didn't realize what she had won during a Komen Foundation trivia night. Sunday afternoon, Koke was introduced as the Honorary Bat Girl at Busch Stadium prior to the Cardinals' series finale against the Phillies, where she threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

She'd never been celebrated like this.

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ST. LOUIS -- At first, Kathy Koke didn't realize what she had won during a Komen Foundation trivia night. Sunday afternoon, Koke was introduced as the Honorary Bat Girl at Busch Stadium prior to the Cardinals' series finale against the Phillies, where she threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

She'd never been celebrated like this.

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"This is probably one of the top five days of my life, I would think," Koke said. "I've never experienced anything like this, all this attention."

2018 Honorary Bat Girls

Koke, a St. Louis native, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2011 when she went in for a routine mammogram. When she was told, Koke immediately thought of her family. Koke didn't share the news with them until January 2012, four days before her first surgery, because she didn't want to interrupt the holidays.

After several surgeries, physical therapy and a year of time, Koke is a survivor of breast cancer. Since then, she has participated in the St. Louis Race for the Cure, partnered by Women and the Cardinals.

Cardinals' gear for moms

Koke was joined Sunday by her family, which helped her enjoy the experience even more. As a lifelong Cardinals fan, Sunday's experience was a lot for Koke to take in.

"This is a whole lot bigger than just going to the ballgame," Koke said. "I didn't realize it."

Koke was happy to have a celebration like this, but she was still nervous.

"Right now, I just don't want to flub up throwing that ball," Koke said, prior to delivering the first pitch to the plate.

Sean Collins is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals

Cards hope rest day will help warm Ozuna's bat

Struggling slugger in an 0-for-22 slump, hitting just .234 on the season
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Shortly after Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Phillies, manager Mike Matheny invited his struggling slugger into his office. Marcell Ozuna plopped himself on the black couch that runs adjacent to the office door, and vented.

Little has gone right for Ozuna at the plate or in the field during his first seven weeks in St. Louis, the reigning National League All-Star now hitting .234/.275/.316 through 41 games. He's hitless in his last 22 at-bats over a five-game span in which he's left 21 runners on base.

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ST. LOUIS -- Shortly after Saturday's 7-6 loss to the Phillies, manager Mike Matheny invited his struggling slugger into his office. Marcell Ozuna plopped himself on the black couch that runs adjacent to the office door, and vented.

Little has gone right for Ozuna at the plate or in the field during his first seven weeks in St. Louis, the reigning National League All-Star now hitting .234/.275/.316 through 41 games. He's hitless in his last 22 at-bats over a five-game span in which he's left 21 runners on base.

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"He was saying, 'Hey, get somebody else in there because I keep coming up in those key spots,'" Matheny recalled Sunday. "We said, 'We want you in there. We trust you.'"

Matheny loves the idea of a sharp Ozuna stirring the lineup from the cleanup spot. But the recent conversation resulted in swapping Ozuna out in place of rookie Tyler O'Neill, at least for a day. O'Neill was hitting fourth Sunday, while Ozuna received a "mental rest" his manager hopes helps snap him out of what's been a season-long funk.

"He's perpetually optimistic, which we love to have around here," Matheny said. "He's a guy who just wants to go. We knew that coming in. Part of it is him learning how to struggle. He didn't have extensive struggles last season. It's going to happen to everybody. Guys end up being better for it in the long run. But in the short-term, we realized he needs a day to take that mental break."

Video: STL@SD: Ozuna launches a solo home run to left field

One of the more complete hitters in the National League last season, Ozuna blossomed in his fifth season with the Marlins in large part to the all-fields approach he matured into. This year, it's largely abandoned him. Ozuna's ground-ball rate has spiked, and his pull rate has grown disproportionately along with it. He's grounded out to the left side seven times in the last three games.

"Pull happy," Matheny said. "And that leads to rolling over balls. He doesn't need to pull the ball to put it out of the park."

Lyons leaving again
Because rehabbing reliever Tyler Lyons (sore back) threw just six pitches in his first appearance at Double-A Springfield on Saturday night, Lyons is preparing to throw again on Monday. He's expected to be activated after that, if all goes well.

"Health-wise I feel good," Lyons said. "I just want to get out and pitch again, be in a competitive mode and not just throwing bullpens. For me, that's all I wanted to get out of it, because I feel much better physically."

Lyons was worked hard before landing on the DL on May 9, appearing in 18 of the Cardinals' first 34 games. He figures to factor into the club's late-inning picture in some fashion, as it continues to figure out how to mitigate the struggles of Greg Holland. Lyons is 1-0 with a 6.17 ERA in 11 2/3 innings this season, after posting a career-best 2.83 ERA across 50 games last season.

 Video: STL@CIN: Lyons gets Votto to ground into double play

Lyons is one of four Cardinals relievers currently on the disabled list, and the only one whose return is imminent.

Reyes nearly ready
Lyons had a front-row seat for Alex Reyes' dominant rehab start at Springfield on Saturday, so much so that Lyons worried if he'd even get in the game.

"Unbelievable. Electric. Unhittable," was how Lyons described it.

Reyes needed just 93 pitches dominate over 7 2/3 innings, striking out 13 in his third of four scheduled rehab starts. Only a final one at Triple-A Memphis stands between Reyes and May 28, the day he can be activated from the disabled list.

"What a poor Double-A team that had to face them yesterday," Matheny said, of Reyes and Lyons. "I think the stuff we're seeing from Alex is going to play anywhere."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Tyler Lyons, Marcell Ozuna

Holland's struggles continue as Cards fall late

Reliever allows tying, go-ahead runs after walk in eighth; now has 14 walks in 12 1/3 IP
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- When searching for the root of Greg Holland's struggles -- the underlying reason why the Cardinals still can't get the former All-Star closer right -- club officials point to two glaring statistical outliers: his career-high walk rate, and career-low strikeout rate.

Holland's peripheral metrics indicate how he tends to create messes for himself, then lacks the ability to wiggle out from them. The latest in a growing litany of examples came Saturday, when Holland surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Phillies. Haunted again by a two-out walk, Holland's second unraveling in as many games -- and fifth of the season -- has club officials trying to wrap their heads around the question of how to solidify the shaky bridge to the ninth.

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ST. LOUIS -- When searching for the root of Greg Holland's struggles -- the underlying reason why the Cardinals still can't get the former All-Star closer right -- club officials point to two glaring statistical outliers: his career-high walk rate, and career-low strikeout rate.

Holland's peripheral metrics indicate how he tends to create messes for himself, then lacks the ability to wiggle out from them. The latest in a growing litany of examples came Saturday, when Holland surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Phillies. Haunted again by a two-out walk, Holland's second unraveling in as many games -- and fifth of the season -- has club officials trying to wrap their heads around the question of how to solidify the shaky bridge to the ninth.

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"Right now, we're seeing some things we're going to have to get through differently," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We have guys who have options who could be available for those later innings."

That could mean Jordan Hicks seeing more opportunities after the sixth and seventh, where he's been flashing his high-octane arsenal lately. Matheny said Sam Tuivailala's recent run "earned" him a longer look. Maybe little-used Mike Mayers factors in, as well, along with John Brebbia.

Whatever the arrangement, Holland appears to have again pitched himself out of high-leverage situations. Compounding the frustration are the glimpses Holland shows, like the two quick outs he recorded Saturday to begin the eighth.

"He's rolling and everything looks right: You're seeing awkward swings, good pitches in tough counts, everything that's made him successful. He's just having a hard time repeating it throughout an inning," Matheny said. "We still believe he's going to get there, but until then we have to figure out a way to use him until he does."

Video: PHI@STL: Matheny on the bullpen's performance in loss

Tasked with holding a lead for the first time in nine days, Holland allowed a run-scoring triple to Scott Kingery and a go-ahead single to Jorge Alfaro. But neither would've scored had Holland not issued a two-out walk to Nick Williams.

"Two quick outs, thought I was rolling -- [then I] fall behind and walk a guy, then make a bad pitch during a strike count," Holland said. "But if I'm putting myself in better situations, one bad pitch is a double and no runs are in. I have to limit the things I can control, like putting guys on base for free, especially in a situation with two outs and nobody on."

What came next erased a margin the Cardinals fought back to gain over the course of a weather-interrupted afternoon. Matt Carpenter's run-scoring double gave St. Louis its first lead in the seventh, after Tyler O'Neill's first career homer tied the game in the sixth. Both teams traded a pair of unearned runs against starters Zach Eflin and John Gant before a 44-minute rain delay in the fifth, and Jedd Gyorko was involved for both teams: contributing two runs with a single and handing two more over with an error from his new post at shortstop.

Video: PHI@STL: Gyorko rips a 2-run single into left field

The triumvirate of relievers in relief of Gant, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings in place of ace Carlos Martinez, all but required Mike Matheny to turn to Holland for the eighth, and hope. Hicks hasn't recovered quickly from multi-inning appearances; he and Tuivailala combined to blank Philadelphia in the sixth and seventh. Luke Gregerson and Tyler Lyons remain on the disabled list, though Lyons' return -- just days away -- figures to be key in making Holland's situation more manageable.

The once-dominant reliever maintains his problem is not physical, and flatly denounced the possibility of refinding his old form in the Minors. An eight-year veteran, Holland has earned the right to reject such an assignment, were the Cardinals to suggest one. He's now walked 14 batters across 12 1/3 innings this season and struck out only nine, drastically flip-flopping his career norms enough that his ERA has ballooned to 7.30.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
O'Neill's first MLB homer: His prospect legend growing after weeks of slugging at Triple-A Memphis, O'Neill earned his second big league call up this week amid the club's flurry of roster moves. He'd managed just a lone hit over his first twelve plate appearances before turning on a 98-mph Luis Garcia fastball in the sixth. The 392-foot solo shot tied the game at five, and marked O'Neill's first big league homer after he hit 44 at Triple-A across the past season-plus. He received a curtain call afterwards.

Video: PHI@STL: O'Neill belts his 1st-career homer to left

O'Neill traded a signed bat for the ball from the fan who caught it. He said he'll give it to his mom, Marilyn, along with the ball from his first MLB hit, which he recorded Friday.

"That's definitely a really special feeling," O'Neill said. "It was last night's single amplified. Jogging around the bases, I don't even know where my mind was at, and then getting the curtain call was just the cherry on top. Just another feeling I'll never forget."

Can Gyorko stick at short? Starting in place of the injured Paul DeJong at short for the second straight day, Gyorko yanked two throws that went for errors. His second came in the fifth, when Brett Cecil coaxed a double-play ball out of Odubel Herrera with the bases loaded in a tie game. Gyorko's return throw was catchable, but it clanged off the glove of first baseman Jose Martinez, allowing two runs to score.

Gyorko figures to see a bulk of the shortstop work in the absence of DeJong, who underwent surgery to repair a broken hand bone Friday. But Gyorko hasn't played the position regularly since 2016, having since moved to third.

Video: PHI@STL: Herrera plates a pair on groundout, error

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Years of working and waiting culminated in a memorable moment in the sixth inning for catcher Steven Baron, who lined a single to left for his first career hit. A career Minor League backup, Baron was recalled this week when Carson Kelly hit the disabled list with a hamstring injury. He went hitless in his only previous Major League stint, in 2015 with Seattle.

Video: PHI@STL: Baron smacks his 1st Major League hit

HE SAID IT
"I've been booed before. We had a lead, had an opportunity to win the game and we didn't get it done. Hopefully I play long enough to get booed again; hopefully it's just a long time from now." -- Holland

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies seemed well on their way toward escaping a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth when Maikel Franco turned a Martinez grounder into an athletic double play. But the Cardinals challenged the ruling that Franco's throw across the diamond beat Martinez to first. Martinez was ruled safe after a 1-minute, 29-second review, after which a throwing error and Gryorko's two-run single plated three runs to tie the game.

Video: PHI@STL: Martinez awarded first after Cards challenge

After the Phillies regained the lead in the top of the eighth off Holland, Kolten Wong chopped a slow roller to the left side to lead off the bottom of the frame. Wong was ruled out after sliding head first into first base, and the call stood following a Cardinals challenge.

Video: PHI@STL: Cardinals challenge Wong out call at 1st

UP NEXT
The Cardinals' four-game series vs. the Phillies concludes when a pair of talented righties face off in Sunday's matinee finale. Jack Flaherty (0-1, 2.87) will face some serious competition when he takes his ninth crack at his first MLB win. Right-hander Aaron Nola (6-1, 1.99) opposes for Philadelphia, at 1:15 p.m. CT from Busch Stadium. Nola has been one of the National League's best starters so far in 2018.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, John Gant, Jedd Gyorko, Greg Holland, Tyler O'Neill

Top prospect Reyes fans 13 in rehab start

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals still must wait until May 28 to activate Alex Reyes from the disabled list. But the club's No.1 prospect sure looks ready now.

Reyes looked dominant once again in his third rehab start, striking out 13 across 7 2/3 shutout innings for Double-A Springfield on Saturday. Fifteen months removed from Tommy John surgery, Reyes has yet to allow a run across three rehab starts. He's struck out 31 batters in 16 innings.

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals still must wait until May 28 to activate Alex Reyes from the disabled list. But the club's No.1 prospect sure looks ready now.

Reyes looked dominant once again in his third rehab start, striking out 13 across 7 2/3 shutout innings for Double-A Springfield on Saturday. Fifteen months removed from Tommy John surgery, Reyes has yet to allow a run across three rehab starts. He's struck out 31 batters in 16 innings.

Reyes' 13th K

"It's exciting to go out there and kind of forget about how everything is feeling and competing," Reyes said this week at Busch Stadium, where he has conducted his mid-start work for most of the month.

The 23-year-old Reyes has appeared at different affiliates during his rehab, steadily increasing his workload in each start. He threw 3 1/3 innings at Class A Advanced Palm Beach, then tossed five innings at Class A Peoria and 7 2/3 innings at Springfield, where Reyes' pitch count reached 93. His next and final rehab start is scheduled for Thursday at Triple-A Memphis. He'll be eligible to return from the DL four days after that.

In what capacity remains to be seen, though his rehab workload certainly hints at Reyes, who is the No. 17 prospect overall in baseball, factoring into the big league rotation. John Gant is currently filling Carlos Martinez's spot, and the club doesn't anticipate Martinez returning from a strained lat until at least the end of the month, or possibly later. Gant likely wouldn't block Reyes.

Even with Martinez healthy, Reyes' arrival would shake up a back end of the rotation that currently features Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty. The odd man out there could contribute in the bullpen, where the club is scrambling to reconfigure its late-inning picture in light of Greg Holland's struggles. Reyes appeared in both roles in his 12-game MLB cameo as a rookie in 2016, starting five games and relieving in seven others. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow the following spring.

"I never had doubt in myself," Reyes said this week. "I always told myself I'd be able to get back to where I was."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.

St. Louis Cardinals, Alex Reyes

Reyes, Mercado lead Cards' affiliates to wins

White Sox Jimenez collects season-high 4 hits for Birmingham
MLB.com @MannyOnMLB

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Saturday.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Saturday.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The No. 3 overall prospect in baseball had a big day at the plate, as Eloy Jimenez turned in a 4-for-4 performance with two doubles in Double-A Birmingham's 7-2 loss to Montgomery. Jimenez, the No. 1 prospect in a loaded White Sox farm system, is hitting .322/.352/.593 with seven home runs in 29 games this season.

Here are the top prospect performances from the rest of Saturday's Minor League action:

• No. 17 overall prospect Alex Reyes (Cardinals' No. 1) made his third Minor League rehab start as he continues his road back from Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out 13 batters over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Double-A Springfield's 1-0 victory over Northwest Arkansas. Reyes surrendered only one hit and walked three batters.

Watch: Reyes' 13th strikeout

• The No. 47 overall prospect and Braves' No. 5, Ian Anderson tossed 5 2/3 strong innings for Class A Advanced Florida in a scoreless game against Clearwater that was suspended in the sixth inning due to inclement weather. The 20-year-old right-hander gave up two hits, walked three and struck out seven, lowering his season ERA to 3.19 in eight starts.

Video: Top Prospects: Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves

• No. 49 overall prospect Willie Calhoun (Rangers' No. 2) went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer in Triple-A Round Rock's loss to New Orleans. Calhoun is five for his last eight after going hitless in three straight games. He's slashing .273/.335/.410 with four home runs in 42 games this season.

Video: Top Prospects: Willie Calhoun, RHP, Rangers

• Braves' No. 18 prospect Drew Waters drove in three of Class A Rome's six runs in a 6-2 victory over Ashville, going 2-for-4 with a double and a homer, raising his season average to .244. The homer was the 19-year-old center fielder's fourth in 32 games this season.

• Jasrado Chisholm (D-backs' No. 3 prospect) belted two homers and drove in four runs during Class A Kane County's 8-4 win over Peoria. The 20-year-old shortstop had entered the game in a 4-for-33 slump. He's hitting .275/.347/.560 with six homers in 27 games.

Watch: Chisholm knocks second homer

Taylor Widener (D-backs' No. 4 prospect) was dominant in Double-A Jackson's 4-1 victory over Pensacola, striking out 11 over seven innings in which he allowed a run on four hits. The performance brought his ERA for the season down to 2.86 in nine starts at the Double-A level.

Video: Top Prospects: Taylor Widener, RHP, D-backs

Oscar Mercado (Cardinals' No. 10 prospect) went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI in Triple-A Memphis' 11-4 win over Colorado Springs. The 23-year-old center fielder is six for his last nine, raising his season average from .277 to .304 in the process. He has an .821 OPS with five homers and 10 steals in 37 games this season.

• Cory Abbott (Cubs' No. 28 prospect) turned in six scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts during Class A South Bend's 5-4, 10-inning loss to Fort Wayne. The 22-year-old right-hander walked two and yielded two hits, lowering his ERA to 2.72 over seven starts in his second professional season.

Dennis Santana (Dodgers' No. 10 prospect) made his Triple-A debut Saturday in Oklahoma City's 4-2 victory over Nashville, and was dominant over six scoreless frames that included 11 strikeouts. The right-hander didn't walk a batter and allowed only three hits. In eight starts this season at Double-A Tulsa, the 22-year-old posted a 2.56 ERA.

Watch: Santana gets strikeout No. 11

Justin Williams (Rays' No. 9 prospect) had four hits in five at-bats during Triple-A Durham's 10-7 win over Indianapolis. He doubled twice, homered and drove in three runs. The 22-year-old right fielder is hitting .252/.319/.407 with four home runs in 34 games for the Bulls this season.

Watch: Williams clubs solo homer

Yonathan Daza (Rockies' No. 20 prospect) had a four-hit game of his own in Double-A Hartford's 5-4 loss to Akron, going 4-for-5 with a double. The 24-year-old center fielder is slashing .300/.325/.450 with three homers in 38 games this season.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Cards' offense roars in hitfest against Phillies

Club clubs 3 homers, bangs out 15 hits, led by Martinez's 5-RBI game
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- The last thing the Cardinals needed was rain. Conditions like the ones that delayed the start then persisted for much of St. Louis' 12-4 win over the Phillies on Friday tend to complicate things. A soft spot of dirt here, the threat of a twisted ankle there. Finding each grip becomes an adventure. Few teams can afford such risk less than the Cardinals, who could field a full lineup from their crop of injured players.

Yet not only did its roster emerge from Friday's game unscathed, St. Louis' offense also seemed to find its footing amid the soggy conditions. Mere hours after losing Paul DeJong -- its shortstop and most recent No.3 hitter -- to the disabled list, St. Louis touched up Jake Arrieta and three relievers for a season-high 15 hits. A defense devoid of half of its up-the-middle core weathered the elements enough to help Michael Wacha steer through six strong innings, and the Cardinals knotted this series on a sloppy, oft-interrupted night at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- The last thing the Cardinals needed was rain. Conditions like the ones that delayed the start then persisted for much of St. Louis' 12-4 win over the Phillies on Friday tend to complicate things. A soft spot of dirt here, the threat of a twisted ankle there. Finding each grip becomes an adventure. Few teams can afford such risk less than the Cardinals, who could field a full lineup from their crop of injured players.

Yet not only did its roster emerge from Friday's game unscathed, St. Louis' offense also seemed to find its footing amid the soggy conditions. Mere hours after losing Paul DeJong -- its shortstop and most recent No.3 hitter -- to the disabled list, St. Louis touched up Jake Arrieta and three relievers for a season-high 15 hits. A defense devoid of half of its up-the-middle core weathered the elements enough to help Michael Wacha steer through six strong innings, and the Cardinals knotted this series on a sloppy, oft-interrupted night at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: PHI@STL: Pena, Matheny on victory over Phillies

"Days like this give us a lot of confidence. It makes you think everything is going to be OK," first baseman Jose Martinez said. "Almost everyone is on the DL, and we need them. But with the team we have right now, we have to step up and win some games."

By the end of Friday's 3-hour, 26-minute contest, four Cardinals tallied multi-hit games and three went deep. Tommy Pham reached based five times and scored three times. Martinez was in the middle of four separate rallies, his two-run homer in the sixth capping a 4-for-5 night during which he drove in five runs. Francisco Pena belted a solo shot as part of his second consecutive three-hit game. In all, an offensive unit that's so often failed to rev spent an evening hammering mistakes and capitalizing on Philadelphia miscues.

Video: PHI@STL: Pena drills a solo home run to left-center

"When you put the ball in play that good stuff is going to happen," Martinez said. "Especially today with the tough weather and tough field."

The teams were forced to fight the same conditions, but the Phillies earned a near monopoly on weather-driven mistakes. Showers delayed the start by 1 hour, 35 minutes (the start of the eighth was delayed also after home-plate umpire Dave Rackley left for an undisclosed reason), then a steady stream continued throughout the contest. That contributed to Philadelphia's three errors, three of the game's four wild pitches and a passed ball -- several miscues which led to Cardinals runs. Pedro Florimon, an infielder, was summoned to pitch in a nine-run game in the eighth. He was the only Phillies pitcher not to allow at least three runs, then cranked a solo homer of his own in the ninth.

Video: PHI@STL: Home-plate umpire Rackley leaves game

"It was raining the entire game, which can make it a little tough," said Wacha, who improved to 5-1. "I tried to continue to make my pitches and not worry about the slick mound."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pena breaks out: A backup catcher for the majority of his 11 professional seasons -- the bulk of which he's spent in the Minors -- Pena is getting his first extended look at the big league level in place of the injured Carson Kelly. And he's producing. Pena singled in the third, doubled in the fourth and clocked a titantic solo homer in the fifth, scoring three runs in the process. Known as a glove-first catcher, Pena is 6-for-8 over the past two games.

Video: PHI@STL: Matheny discusses offense in Cards' 12-4 win

"What a big day for Pena, initiating a lot of the offense there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You never know who is going to be that guy who sparks you. You wouldn't think he'd be having this opportunity right now and he's making the most of it."

O'Neill's first MLB hit: The game also included a milestone for rookie Tyler O'Neill, who collected his first MLB hit with a single in the seventh. Promoted on Friday in response to DeJong's injury, O'Neill is the organization's third-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline and has spent the year so far as one of the top sluggers in the Pacific Coast League.

Video: PHI@STL: O'Neill singles to left for his 1st MLB hit

"It's a big monkey off my back," O'Neill said. "I'm going to give [the ball] to my mom. She'll have a good spot to put it."

SOUND SMART
Pena's first home run with the Cardinals came 29 years after his father, Tony Pena, hit his last of 19 over three seasons in St. Louis. The Penas are became the second father-son duo in Cardinals history to hit a home run with the club, joining Ed and Scott Spiezio.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Back when it was a 4-0 game in the fourth, Dexter Fowler turned in a defensive highlight when he robbed Carlos Santana of a potential home run at the right-field wall. Fowler had to battle steady rain to track the ball, then time his jump before reaching to the top of the fence.

Video: PHI@STL: Fowler makes a leaping grab at the wall

"Huge play," Wacha said. "I missed my spot with the pitch and off the crack of the bat I thought it was gone. Dexter made a heck of a play to bring it back."

HE SAID IT
"Sometimes it clicks, and hopefully that's a sign of things to come. We have quite a few guys in real nice spots, and got big hits from some guys you might've not expected." -- Matheny

UP NEXT
The Cardinals originally hoped Carlos Martinez's strained lat would heal in time for him to return to the mound for Saturday's matinee, set for 1:15 p.m. CT. But with Martinez still on the mend, John Gant (1-1, 4.15) will start in the ace's place. Right-hander Zach Eflin (1-0, 0.71) counters for Philadelphia.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

St. Louis Cardinals

Pena making most of big league opportunity

Cardinals backup catcher getting extended look after injuries to Molina, Kelly
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Even as he sat by Yadier Molina's hospital bed, invited into Molina's close-knit support bunker following the catcher's debilitating groin injury, Francisco Pena knew he wouldn't replace him.

Pena made the Cardinals' roster out of Spring Training as the backup catcher. But he was really their third, with Carson Kelly just a phone call away if Molina went down. As Pena sat through Molina's surgery, that's exactly what happened. But now that Kelly is also injured, Pena is getting an extended look. And so far, he's taking advantage. Friday's 12-4 win over the Phillies provided the latest example.

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ST. LOUIS -- Even as he sat by Yadier Molina's hospital bed, invited into Molina's close-knit support bunker following the catcher's debilitating groin injury, Francisco Pena knew he wouldn't replace him.

Pena made the Cardinals' roster out of Spring Training as the backup catcher. But he was really their third, with Carson Kelly just a phone call away if Molina went down. As Pena sat through Molina's surgery, that's exactly what happened. But now that Kelly is also injured, Pena is getting an extended look. And so far, he's taking advantage. Friday's 12-4 win over the Phillies provided the latest example.

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"It's getting at-bats, getting more repetitions," Pena said after he was the surprise star of the club's season-best 15-hit barrage.

A night after his first career three-hit game, Pena singled and doubled before launching a solo home run in the fifth inning off Drew Hutchison, pulling a 417-foot shot deep to left-center field. He also anchored a defense that handled itself well amid wet conditions that often sparked sloppiness in Phillies defenders.

The career Minor League journeyman known more for his glove is 6-for-8 in two starts in Kelly's place.

Video: PHI@STL: Pena breaks for home on a wild pitch

"What a big day for Pena, initiating a lot of the offense there." manager Mike Matheny said. "You never know who's going to be that guy who kind of sparks you. You wouldn't think he'd be having this kind of opportunity right now, and he's making the most of it."

Even if Pena keeps hitting, his chance may be fleeting. Kelly will likely reclaim the job when his right hamstring strain heals. If the injury lingers, club officials could be tempted to explore the trade market for more proven insurance. If Pena's performance continues, it'll at least give them pause.

"We played together in the Minor Leagues and went through a lot of things together," first baseman Jose Martinez said. "To see him go out there and be successful is pretty awesome."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

St. Louis Cardinals, Francisco Pena

Fowler fights elements to nab long drive at wall

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- The weather added an extra level of difficulty for St. Louis right fielder Dexter Fowler when tracking a long fly ball off the bat of Philadelphia's Carlos Santana during the Cardinals' 12-4 win on Friday night.

Half an inning after the skies over Busch Stadium opened for the second time in the night, Fowler fought falling rain to rob Santana of an extra-base hit at the right-field wall.

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ST. LOUIS -- The weather added an extra level of difficulty for St. Louis right fielder Dexter Fowler when tracking a long fly ball off the bat of Philadelphia's Carlos Santana during the Cardinals' 12-4 win on Friday night.

Half an inning after the skies over Busch Stadium opened for the second time in the night, Fowler fought falling rain to rob Santana of an extra-base hit at the right-field wall.

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Would it have been a home run? Starting pitcher Michael Wacha certainly thought so.

"Huge play," Wacha said. "I missed my spot with the pitch, and off the crack of the bat I thought it was gone. Dexter made a heck of a play to bring it back."

Fowler felt for the wall, waited and timed his jump perfectly to snatch Santana's long drive near the top of the fence. The catch took away what could've potentially been Santana's second homer in two days, and sixth in his past nine games.

It also preserved a 4-0 lead for the Cardinals, who benefitted from the elements in a soggy four-run third inning against Jake Arrieta. St. Louis scored two of its runs after a Scott Kingery throwing error extended the inning. Kingery threw a routine grounder away after struggling to grip the ball. The elements led to another run in the Cardinals' favor in the fourth inning, when second baseman Cesar Hernandez bobbled a catch at first base on a sacrifice bunt, and reliever Drew Hutchison uncorked a wild pitch on the next play.

In all, the slumping Cardinals' offense erupted for 12 runs on a season-high 15 hits. Though the still-struggling Fowler went 0-for-4, he contributed the game's defensive highlight in what turned into a blowout victory.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

St. Louis Cardinals, Dexter Fowler

Cardinals lose DeJong, Bowman to DL

Club promotes Munoz, O'Neill in wake of latest injuries
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- These days, the doors of the Cardinals' clubhouse swing open into a time lapse. Entering sends a visitor back two months, or forward five. Jerseys hang in 35 of the 42 available lockers, the kind of volume seen in Spring Training or September, when rosters expand.

Rarely are so many reinforcements summoned by the middle of May. But few teams have had their depth tested quite like the Cardinals, who are now forced to endure at least several weeks without shortstop Paul DeJong. The club placed DeJong (fractured left metacarpal) and reliever Matt Bowman (blisters to his index and middle finger) on the 10-day disabled list Friday, the latest victims of an array of maladies that have ransacked its active roster.

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ST. LOUIS -- These days, the doors of the Cardinals' clubhouse swing open into a time lapse. Entering sends a visitor back two months, or forward five. Jerseys hang in 35 of the 42 available lockers, the kind of volume seen in Spring Training or September, when rosters expand.

Rarely are so many reinforcements summoned by the middle of May. But few teams have had their depth tested quite like the Cardinals, who are now forced to endure at least several weeks without shortstop Paul DeJong. The club placed DeJong (fractured left metacarpal) and reliever Matt Bowman (blisters to his index and middle finger) on the 10-day disabled list Friday, the latest victims of an array of maladies that have ransacked its active roster.

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"Unfortunately, this is the kind of season we're having," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. "We're dealing with these speed bumps as they come."

The club recalled utilityman Yairo Munoz, who was playing mostly shortstop at Triple-A Memphis, to offset the loss of DeJong. Slugging prospect Tyler O'Neill was promoted to replace Bowman, the club's need for position player depth now paramount with eight relievers already in tow. Jedd Gyorko got the first start in DeJong's place on Friday, though the 23-year-old Munoz should see significant run there as well.

Mozeliak said whether or not the club will look outside the organization for a shortstop depends largely on the timetable for DeJong's return, which would be determined in the coming days. DeJong underwent successful surgery to repair the fracture Friday afternoon, a night after he was struck in the left hand by a Luis Garcia slider.

Video: PHI@STL: DeJong hit by pitch following review in 8th

The severity of the injury came as a surprise. DeJong wasn't awarded first base until a replay confirmed he was hit. He showed little sign of injury, remained in the game, and lined out sharply in his next at bat. Only after the Cardinals dropped a 6-2 contest to the Phillies did an X-ray reveal the fracture.

"We'll take it week by week, but obviously he'll miss some time," Mozeliak said. "This is a huge disappointment. He was having a good year for us, making a lot of those positive adjustments at the plate and from a defensive standpoint was really holding his own."

Buoyed to the No.3 slot in the order recently after spending parts of his standout rookie season there, DeJong was hitting .260/.351/.473 with eight home runs and 19 RBI over 41 games to start his sophomore season. The most important of those numbers may be the last -- DeJong was the only Cardinals player to start every game this season. His durability stood out on a club that's now placed seven players on the DL over the past 10 days and was already playing without Carlos Martinez and Yadier Molina. St. Louis has placed 14 players on the DL at some point this season, the second most in baseball.

Video: CHC@STL: Matheny on injuries to Norris, Pham, Molina

"I love the challenge of what the club has in front of them right now," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Any of the doubt that's out there about what we can do is an insult and we have to take it that way. We have guys who are completely capable of going out there and do special things. When you look at what we have and what we haven't done, we have so much room to climb and grow and get better."

More injury updates
• Mozeliak called the results of an additional MRI on Martinez's right lat encouraging, and said the right-hander will begin a throwing program Monday. His return remains 10-14 days away, Mozeliak said.

• Left-handed reliever Tyler Lyons (sore back) will likely begin a rehab assignment Saturday at Double-A Springfield, which is expected to be a short one.

• Additional tests on Dominic Leone's right arm revealed the reliever has nerve damage. It's not the type that typically leads to thoractic outlet syndrome, one of the more common and serious nerve issues pitchers suffer. Leone's condition does not require surgery, but he remains out indefinitely.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Bowman, Paul DeJong

Weaver sharp but outdueled in loss to Phils

Right-hander allows 1 run in 7 innings; clutch hits elude Cards in final 3 frames
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- It only took a quick glance around Busch Stadium early Thursday to see why this qualified as a big start for Luke Weaver. Alex Reyes galloped in from the bullpen under the high afternoon sky, giddy at the thought of returning by month's end. Jack Flaherty trailed him, back in the big leagues and intent on staying. Soon after, club officials drove home their hope that Carlos Martinez's disabled list stint would be a short one.

Through the lens of all these moving parts, one could reasonably view Weaver's start as something of an audition. And if it was, he responded. Weaver was at little fault in the Cardinals' 6-2 loss to the Phillies, matching a career high with seven strong innings. He was simply outdueled by Vince Velasquez, who became the latest starter to quell the Cardinals' lineup for a good chunk of a night.

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ST. LOUIS -- It only took a quick glance around Busch Stadium early Thursday to see why this qualified as a big start for Luke Weaver. Alex Reyes galloped in from the bullpen under the high afternoon sky, giddy at the thought of returning by month's end. Jack Flaherty trailed him, back in the big leagues and intent on staying. Soon after, club officials drove home their hope that Carlos Martinez's disabled list stint would be a short one.

Through the lens of all these moving parts, one could reasonably view Weaver's start as something of an audition. And if it was, he responded. Weaver was at little fault in the Cardinals' 6-2 loss to the Phillies, matching a career high with seven strong innings. He was simply outdueled by Vince Velasquez, who became the latest starter to quell the Cardinals' lineup for a good chunk of a night.

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"That was a fantastic start," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Weaver. "Exactly what we were looking for. It's a shame it wasn't enough."

Video: PHI@STL: Matheny on Weaver, Ozuna in 6-2 loss

It wasn't largely because the Cardinals left seven men on base over the final three frames, including the bases loaded while down four runs in the ninth. But by that point they were playing catch-up, scraping to stay alive on a night Velasquez and Weaver spent most of matching zeros. Only against relievers Jordan Hicks and John Brebbia did the Phillies feast for five runs. Weaver allowed just one, on a Carlos Santana solo homer in the fifth, and finished by battling out of a first-and-third jam two innings later. Relying heavily on a swing-and-miss changeup, the righty struck out six against one walk, scattering four hits in all.

Weaver's second strong outing in a row came after a four-start stretch over which the righty pitched to a 9.35 ERA, amid whispers that his status in the rotation may be tenuous. His outing Thursday did more to alleviate those doubts than his five-inning win over the Padres last time out.

Video: PHI@STL: Weaver induces 3-6-3 double play in the 2nd

"Every game is a big game, but that last game for me felt really big," Weaver said. "Now to roll it over to today was huge. I know I can pitch. I have to keep going and the results will show."

Matheny spent another postgame press conference saying the same thing about his offense, which failed to carry much momentum over from its 13-hit outburst a day ago in Minnesota. Velasquez held St. Louis to five harmless hits over 6 1/3 scoreless frames, breezing through three turns through the Cardinals lineup thanks to an equal scattering of strikeouts, ground outs and fly outs.

Video: PHI@STL: Gyorko smacks RBI single to left

The Cardinals didn't threaten until the seventh, when a misplay in left field turned a Matt Carpenter fly ball into a double, placing runners on second and third. Two routine outs later against Seranthony Dominguez, they came up empty. They scraped two runs off Yacksel Rios and Luis Garcia in the eighth, before Matheny sent Harrison Bader to the plate for Carpenter with two outs, representing the go-ahead run. Bader flew out harmlessly. Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna made the final two outs against Edubray Ramos in the ninth, stranding three runners apiece. Ozuna left eight men on base, and is now 0-for-his-last-16.

"When you're not seeing success, your confidence goes down. Even for a guy who has a lot of confidence," Matheny said. "In the meanwhile, you have to keep fighting."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Cut down twice: Anxious to make something happen with his club so starved for runs, twice Matheny directed a runner at third to run on contact in a late-inning situation. Twice the runner was thrown out at the plate. First it was Dexter Fowler, who took off on a Francisco Pena grounder to short in the seventh, with the infield in. Next inning Jose Martinez was thrown out at home by Santana, who made the aggressive decision to fire home on a slow chopper.

Video: PHI@STL: Phillies nab Fowler in between third, home

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Fowler was only on third because of a weird play a batter before, when Phillies outfielders Odubel Herrera and Rhys Hoskins failed to communicate on a routine Carpenter fly ball to left center. How routine was what turned into a double for Carpenter? Hoskins had a 99 percent catch probability, according to Statcast™. Herrera makes the play 80 percent of the time, according to Statcast™. Instead it fell in between them, sending Velasquez from the game and setting up the Cardinals' first rally of the night.

Video: PHI@STL: Carpenter doubles on confusion in outfield

HE SAID IT
"Any decision where I pull a player … that's never something you take lightly. I felt like that was our best chance. You go with what you think will give you the best chance to win a game right there. We like Harrison's at-bats against lefties, so that's the shot we took." -- Matheny, on pinch-hitting the rookie Bader for Carpenter, who is hitting .164 on the year

Video: PHI@STL: Ozuna plates Pham on fielder's choice

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
An odd bounce off both DeJong's bat and left hand -- simultaneously -- made Matheny initially pause before challenging in the eighth. Originally ruled a foul ball, umpires determined Garcia's pitch caught enough of DeJong's flesh to grant him first base, setting up a bases-loaded situation for Ozuna, representing the go-ahead run. Ozuna grounded into a fielder's choice, driving home St. Louis' second run. But the call on DeJong, overturned after a 39-second review, could've led to much more.

Video: PHI@STL: DeJong hit by pitch following review in 8th

"I wasn't confident [it hit him] when I saw his response," Matheny said. "He told me it got both, hand and bat. It didn't sound like wood. And he's a little sore. It hit him. We want guys to go to first base. We're four runs down right there."

UP NEXT
With Martinez and Adam Wainwright on the disabled list, suddenly Michael Wacha qualifies as the senior most member of the Cardinals rotation. He's also been one of the most durable. Wacha (4-1, 3.09 ERA) will make his ninth start of the year when this series continues Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT from Busch Stadium. Jake Arrieta (3-1, 2.59 ERA) opposes after years of facing the Cardinals as a member of the Cubs.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, Marcell Ozuna, Luke Weaver