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Cards thwart Phillies' rallies, bash 4 homers

Shildt's decision to walk Hoskins twice pays off in Hudson's strong start
@paul_casella
May 30, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- In a month when not much has gone right for the Cardinals, a pair of pivotal decisions finally tilted in St. Louis' favor in Thursday's 5-3 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. With the Cardinals leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, manager Mike Shildt

PHILADELPHIA -- In a month when not much has gone right for the Cardinals, a pair of pivotal decisions finally tilted in St. Louis' favor in Thursday's 5-3 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

With the Cardinals leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, manager Mike Shildt elected to intentionally walk Rhys Hoskins to load the bases with only one out following a Bryce Harper double. César Hernández followed with a run-scoring fielder's choice, but starter Dakota Hudson avoided any further damage by getting Scott Kingery to pop out.

Two innings later, with the Cardinals still clinging to a 2-1 lead, they faced an identical situation -- and made the same decision. After a one-out double by Harper, St. Louis intentionally walked Hoskins to load the bases for Hernandez. This time, the Phillies second baseman ripped a 104.6 mph line drive toward the middle, but shortstop Paul DeJong snagged it and quickly tagged Harper for an inning-ending double play.

Box score

"Hoskins is a dangerous guy," Shildt said. "Not that Hernandez isn't, but basically you're setting up an opportunity for one pitch to hopefully get you out of the inning."

After holding the Phillies to just one total run in those two bases-loaded, one-out situations, the Cardinals received some insurance in the top of the seventh courtesy of a two-run homer by Jedd Gyorko and a pinch-hit solo shot from Matt Carpenter. Marcell Ozuna and Matt Wieters had hit solo homers of their own in the second inning, as the Cardinals matched a season high with four homers.

"The momentum of the game was that double-play ball," Shildt said. "Then to come back in and score three, that was a huge momentum swing defensively, and we turned it into some offensive momentum, as well."

The decision for Shildt came down to Hudson's propensity for inducing ground balls. Hudson, who throws his sinker 48 percent of the time, entered the day with a ground-ball rate of 61.8 percent -- highest in the Majors among any pitcher with at least 50 innings.

"I feel like [Shildt] puts me in a situation where I can be successful," Hudson said. "Getting ground balls is my thing, so I'd rather roll the dice on that too -- but it feels great to be coming from my manager."

Hudson has earned the benefit of the doubt from his skipper, given his recent performance. The 24-year-old righty has turned in four consecutive quality starts, while putting up a 2.80 ERA in six May starts.

He's also played a key role for the Cardinals during their recent struggles. Over the past 13 games, St. Louis is 3-0 when Hudson starts, compared to just 1-9 with anyone else on the mound.

"Trust is a word I use a lot. Quite honestly, I manage with it," Shildt said. "It can't be blind, but it's also there. I trust our group. I trust our guys to make plays and make pitches.

"I can't manage scared -- and I won't. But I'll manage to their strengths with the expectation that they'll execute."

Hudson allowed just the one run over six innings, before four relievers combined to shut the door. Jordan Hicks bounced back from Sunday's rough outing against the Braves with a perfect ninth, with some help from right fielder Dexter Fowler, who scaled the wall in foul territory to make a sensational game-ending grab.

"It was awesome, man," Fowler said. "It was awesome to pick up that win. We've been battling as a team. There was a fan over there that just kept talking to me, and talking to me -- for like an inning and a half. So I just smiled at him [after the catch]. Guy didn't like that very much."

Though it was an outfielder who put the exclamation point on Thursday's win, Hudson once again leaned on his infield in his latest victory.

"We'll go through the week and I'll have our middle infielders coming up to me saying, 'When are you gonna throw?'" Hudson said. "I get excited all week long. I watch the other guys go out and do their thing, then I feel like I'm ready to go out and compete to win a game every time I'm out there.

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.