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Bader shines with bat and glove in Cards' win

Outfielder homers to open six-run fifth, makes diving grab in seventh
April 30, 2019

WASHINGTON -- For three innings on Monday night, the Cardinals couldn’t scratch out a hit off Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin. By the end of the fifth, they had chased him with a six-run frame. Marcell Ozuna’s two-run single gave his team the lead, Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to

WASHINGTON -- For three innings on Monday night, the Cardinals couldn’t scratch out a hit off Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin. By the end of the fifth, they had chased him with a six-run frame.

Marcell Ozuna’s two-run single gave his team the lead, Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 16 games -- tying his career best -- with another RBI single, and by the time the smoke cleared, the Cards were on their way to a 6-3 victory over the Nats in Monday night’s series opener at Nationals Park.

“We were kind of a little bit in between [at first], trying to do more than we can do,” said Ozuna, who picked up his team-leading 27th and 28th RBIs. “And then everybody pulled together and slowed down a little bit [to] get a good pitch to hit.”

St. Louis scored four or more runs for the 24th time in its 28 games. The Cardinals are 18-6 in such contests, and overall they have won three straight and eight of nine.

Harrison Bader homered with one out to begin the fifth-inning onslaught. After Corbin retired pitcher Michael Wacha for the second out, Matt Carpenter walked, Paul Goldschmidt singled and Paul DeJong walked. Carpenter scored and the others each moved up a base on Corbin’s wild pitch to Ozuna, before Ozuna dumped his two-run single into left-center. Jose Martinez followed that with an RBI double and Molina drove him in with his single. All this after Corbin had given up only one hit prior to the inning, a Martinez single in the fourth.

“We are really sincere about getting better as the game goes,” said manager Mike Shildt. “This group’s pretty dedicated to that. Very professional. And that’s what we’ll do. [Bader] got a pitch and drove it, and kind of opened it up from there.”

Wacha withstands

The six-run inning helped lift Wacha to victory in his return from the 10-day injured list with left knee tendinitis.

Wacha grinded through his five innings on 101 pitches, giving up the Nationals' three runs on four hits, while striking out five and walking three.

“Straight guts,” Shildt said of his starter. “A little short in the 'pen today. And when he gets down, we don’t want to ride him. But he’s a workhorse and he’s been through the battles. He loves and embraces it.”

Two of Wacha’s toughest battles came against Corbin, who put together a pair of nine-pitch at-bats.

The first resulted in a bases-loaded walk after Corbin had fouled off four pitches in the at-bat, sparking the Nats’ three-run second. The second ended in a swinging strikeout on a changeup that tailed out of the zone, the first of five straight batters Wacha retired to end his evening.

“I felt like I was making some decent pitches and he fouled off the tough pitches, taking the close ones,” said Wacha, who hadn’t previously faced Corbin. “They’re good at-bats. You can almost find something in each game that you haven’t ever seen before.”

Bader aid

In his first start since his return from the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain, Bader also made a stellar defensive play in the seventh inning, getting a near-perfect jump to make a diving catch that robbed Yan Gomes of at least a single and likely more.

According to Statcast, Bader covered 52 feet in 3.3 seconds to make the grab. When Gomes hit the ball, it had only a 10 percent chance of being caught. Bader also added a bunt single in the eighth, his first since 2017.

“As good a play as you’re going to see,” Shildt said of the catch. “I liked the bunt, too. It was really a good tempo to it, it was under control.”