Cards hammer 4 homers, cut magic number to 3

September 24th, 2019

PHOENIX -- The Cardinals went into Monday’s game against the D-backs with the same focus that they had when they swept the Cubs in four games at Wrigley Field this weekend -- every game matters.

So the series opener at Chase Field had a familiar feel, the Cardinals staving off comebacks and rallying late to win a close game, 9-7, over the D-backs for their sixth straight win, matching their season-high.

, , and all went deep to cut the Cardinals’ magic number to clinch the National League Central to 3 over the Brewers, who did not play Monday. St. Louis’ win also eliminated Arizona from postseason contention.

“What we started there in Chicago was great, but that’s just the start,” starting pitcher Adam Wainwright said. “We didn’t want to lose momentum coming into here.”

After Edman’s solo shot in the first inning, Goldschmidt celebrated his return to his former ballpark by hitting his 100th career Chase Field homer, a two-run shot in the third inning.

And Molina -- who had a season-high four RBIs -- launched a no-doubt, two-run homer 429 feet to left-center field in the fifth inning to tack onto the Cardinals’ lead.

Wainwright had given up two runs and was only at 67 pitches entering the fifth inning. But after striking out Carson Kelly swinging to start the frame, Wainwright walked pinch-hitter Domingo Leyba and gave up four consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly as the D-backs made it a 6-5 game.

Wainwright -- who had entered Monday’s game with a 0.33 ERA in September -- got out of the inning with the Cardinals still in the lead, but he said the turning point was walking Leyba.

“If I get him out, I’ve got two outs and nobody on,” Wainwright said. “The simple adjustments I need to make are on the way. I hate giving up runs like that, and I hate pitching only five innings in the first game of a road trip. But you know what? We needed a win, and our hitters came through to get us a win.”

The Cardinals added some insurance with Bader’s solo shot in the eighth inning and a two-run ninth, and they needed it, as closer Carlos Martinez had to come on in the ninth to put out another D-backs rally.

Although the Cardinals have their attention on this last week of the regular season, it’s hard to not think ahead to the postseason. The games they’re winning right now could prepare them for what’s to come in high-leverage playoff games.

“These last few weeks, the schedule’s been tough,” Goldschmidt said. “We’ve played Milwaukee, Washington, we’ve got Chicago for seven. The Diamondbacks are right there. I think we knew that there was going to be a lot of tight games. Everyone is using their bullpen, their starters are good, every pitch matters. It’s like playoff baseball. We knew that coming in, and it hasn’t disappointed.”

The Cardinals haven’t disappointed, either. They clinched a postseason berth and are now eyeing the division. Wainwright, Goldschmidt and the other veterans on the team made sure that everyone knew what the focus had to be going into the final week of the regular season.

“Just understanding that after you come out of an emotional rivalry series and wins, it’s possible to have that letdown,” Goldschmidt said. “It was just like, ‘Hey, these games matter just the same, and let’s go out there with the same focus and intensity.’ And we did.

“We’re going to have to do that every game, every game of the regular season and however many games there are in the postseason. We have to give it everything we have if we want to win.”