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St. Louis bats rebound with 4 HRs in nightcap

Ozuna, Carpenter go deep early, Waino offers five workmanlike frames
May 23, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offense needed a jolt to shake it from its fitful slumber before the conclusion of Wednesday night’s doubleheader with the Royals drifted into a nightmare. Marcell Ozuna provided the forceful wake-up call, and St. Louis slugged its way to a 10-3 victory. Ozuna concluded a

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offense needed a jolt to shake it from its fitful slumber before the conclusion of Wednesday night’s doubleheader with the Royals drifted into a nightmare. Marcell Ozuna provided the forceful wake-up call, and St. Louis slugged its way to a 10-3 victory.

Ozuna concluded a 12-pitch first-inning battle against Royals starter Homer Bailey with a three-run home run, the first of four the Cards hit Wednesday night. Matt Carpenter (two-run, second inning), Dexter Fowler Dexter Fowler (solo, sixth inning) and Kolten Wong (three-run, seventh inning) followed in turn.

Box score

“I just try to put the ball in play,” Ozuna said. “I’ve been struggling at the plate. Sometimes you get your confidence coming back, and then I see a good pitch.”

“We’ve had a lot of those kinds of at-bats,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “He drove that ball, stayed on it, didn’t try to do too much and obviously a big blow to answer right back after the first game.”

Wednesday’s first matchup with the Royals was a showcase of soporific swings. The Cards' hitters struggled and seemingly slept-walked through 7 2/3 innings of two-hit baseball before Ozuna delivered a two-run double and a touch of respect to the box score in an 8-2 loss in the matinee. The importance of scoring early was not lost on St. Louis' left fielder.

“It’s big,” Ozuna conceded. “After we lost the game before, we got an early shot and we put some [runs] on the board, and that’s pretty impressive.”

A firm return of the club’s power stroke allowed the Cardinals to avoid being swept by the Royals and falling below .500 on the season as they await the turn of the calendar page from a dreadful May. Wednesday night’s victory was only the team’s fourth in its last 14 games, and it broke a four-game losing streak at Busch Stadium.

“They’ve been taking it to us a little bit,” Cards starter Adam Wainwright said. “We were what, [5-13] the last 18 games coming into today? If we go [13-5 in] the next 18, it’ll be like nothing ever happened.”

Again Ozuna would start a rally in the home half of the seventh. He hit a ground-rule double, then reached home on a single by Yadier Molina before Wong put the game out of reach. Fowler delivered three hits of his own, coming only a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Wainwright worked Kansas City's lineup through five hard-fought innings, allowing three runs on six hits and four works. He struggled some with his command, saying his breaking ball was “roll-y” and that he felt like he needed to “reset [his] sights a little bit.”

Both Wainwright and Shildt felt like some of the right-hander’s pitches were a small number of inches off the strike zone, forcing him into deeper counts.

Wainwright is also a former Silver Slugger winner who takes special pride in his offensive contributions. He recorded his second hit of the season and scored on Carpenter’s home run.

“It’s about time,” he said. “I used to hit on the field every time before I pitched, and I’ve gotten away from that a little bit. I don’t know why I would expect to go out and hit a really good starting pitcher’s stuff when I haven’t prepared for it physically.

“Anything you want to be good at, you need to work at, and I haven’t been working at it like I could have.”

Wainwright was followed by John Gant, Andrew Miller, Carlos Martinez and John Brebbia. Martinez made his 2019 Busch Stadium debut in a perfect eighth inning after missing the season’s opening weeks with weakness in his right shoulder. St. Louis' bullpen would deliver four shutout innings, and only one Kansas City runner would safely reach second base after Wainwright departed the game.

Bailey made his 28th career start against St. Louis, and the longtime Cincinnati Red lasted only 1 2/3 innings before being replaced by Glenn Sparkman.

“I don’t think [familiarity] ever hurts,” Shildt said. “I think it sets you up to feel like, ‘You know what, I’m familiar with this guy, I’ve had some good swings off this guy,' and it definitely doesn’t hurt.”

Bailey's five earned runs allowed raised his season ERA to 6.13 and his career ERA against the Cardinals to 5.80. The home runs by Ozuna and Carpenter make 26 career allowed against the Cards, the most against him by any opponent.