Mattitude: Trio drives Cardinals past Phillies
ST. LOUIS -- Despite the less-than-desirable debut from lefty Tim Cooney, the Cardinals ended a four-game series against the Phillies with a 9-3 win at Busch Stadium on Thursday behind a blitz attack from the top half of their lineup.
In the third straight game featuring Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday and Matt Adams as the team's No. 2-4 hitters, the Cardinals saw those three combine for seven hits, six runs, two walks and six RBIs. Successive hits by the three in the first inning dropped Phillies starter David Buchanan into a quick three-run hole.
"When those guys are swinging the bat well and you have tough at-bats one after another, it just puts the pressure on the pitcher and presents a different look for our lineup," Carpenter said, after reaching base four times. "I think it was a good move that [Cardinals manager] Mike [Matheny] made the other day and it has paid off for us this week."
Buchanan (0-5) would be chased in the fifth, which saw Holliday and Adams deliver two more RBI hits. A two-run blast by Adams in third was the biggest of the four extra-base hits the three tallied.
Buchanan, with his 4 1/3-inning start, actually lasted longer than Cooney, who was pulled after allowing eight of the 15 batters he faced to reach. He fell behind all but one hitter his first time through the order and was stung by a Darin Ruf homer in the Phillies' two-run third. Philadelphia tied the game against him but then got nothing going against the Cardinals' bullpen.
"We've struggled to put up some crooked numbers," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We haven't been good on some of the bunt attempts to give us some other chances to get some runs. Those are things we can improve on. Everybody will continue to get some opportunities."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Adams bomb: After the Phillies had scored three unanswered runs to tie the game, Adams pushed the Cardinals back in front with his third homer of the season, this one a two-run blast just over the team's right-field bullpen. Adams finished with his third straight multihit games, drove in three and improved to 8-for-16 on this homestand. Adams' career .338 April average remains tops in the Majors among active hitters with at least 50 games.
"I knew if I kept working, I was going to figure it out," Adams said. "I made a little bit of adjustments and it's working. … It makes the at-bat more fun knowing that when you put the ball in the gap, you're going to score a couple runs."
Buchanan battered again: Buchanan continues to struggle. He allowed eight hits, seven runs and three walks in just 4 1/3 innings. He finished April at 0-5 with an 8.76 ERA, which is the highest ERA in the Majors. More >
"I just want my team to win a game that I pitch in," said a visibly frustrated Buchanan. "I'm not looking at my record. I just want my team to win when I pitch in a ballgame. I don't care how it happens. 0-for-5 right now. But -- I want my team to be confident when I take that mound. I want to make sure that I start pitching that way."
Villanueva steadies ship: Matheny used a quick hook to remove Cooney as the lefty never found his footing in his Major League debut. That put the game in the hands of Carlos Villanueva, who allowed one inherited runner to score but did not let anyone reach as he covered the next 3 2/3 innings. The strong outing might have pushed Villanueva, right now the team's designated long reliever, into consideration for a spot start five days from now. More >
"The best compliment I ever got was from my former manager John Farrell," Villanueva said. "He said, 'When I come in there, I stabilize the game.' That was exactly what we were looking for today and what we needed. I'm happy it worked out. "
Ruf shows pop: Phillies left fielder Ruf made his first start since April 23, and he went 2-for-3 with one home run, one RBI and one walk. Ruf is tied for third on the team with five extra-base hits, despite being a distant ninth in plate appearances. More >
"Just try to stay positive. That's all. Try to set a good example. Try to conserve my helmets. The helmets are still alive. Bats? … The helmets are still alive." -- Chase Utley, on how he is keeping his composure following a .114 batting average in April.
"I wanted to treat it like any other game. But just being out there in front of that many people, playing for the Cardinals, playing in the big leagues, it was a really cool experience. I wish it had gone better pitching-wise, but I'll remember the day forever." -- Cooney, on his Major League debut.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Before Cooney, the last Cardinal to debut with a start of 2 1/3 innings or fewer and at least three earned runs allowed was Paul (Daffy) Dean on April 18, 1934. Dean went on to win 50 games over nine seasons in the Majors.
The Phillies finished April with an 8-15 record, their fewest wins in April since they went 7-17 in 2000. The Cardinals, in contrast, matched their franchise-best 21-game start with 15 wins.
Ryan Howard tied Fred Luderus for the most games played at first base in franchise history (1,298).
BILLINGSLEY LOOKS READY
Phillies right-hander Chad Billingsley made his fourth rehab start Thursday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He allowed five hits, two unearned runs, one walk and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings. His next start could be next week with the Phillies. More >
Phillies: The Phillies head to Miami to open a three-game series on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Marlins at Marlins Park. Right-hander Jerome Williams has allowed five earned runs in 12 2/3 innings in his last two starts, including a start against Miami on April 21.
Home team: The Cardinals will welcome the Pirates to town on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT for the first of 19 games against the club that has finished second to them in the division each of the last two years. Lance Lynn will start for the Cardinals against Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett.
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