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Cards go as Goldy, Ozuna go to force Game 5

OF notches first St. Louis multihomer postseason game since '12
@JoeTrezz
October 7, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are still alive in the National League Division Series thanks to their late-inning, season-saving 5-4 comeback win in Monday’s Game 4 over the Braves. And while there were plenty of contributors, their two biggest bats did much of the heavy lifting at Busch Stadium.

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are still alive in the National League Division Series thanks to their late-inning, season-saving 5-4 comeback win in Monday’s Game 4 over the Braves. And while there were plenty of contributors, their two biggest bats did much of the heavy lifting at Busch Stadium.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3 STL 7, ATL 6 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 4 ATL 3, STL 0 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 6 ATL 3, STL 1 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 7 STL 5, ATL 4 (10) Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 9 STL 13, ATL 1 Watch

Yadier Molina brought the Cardinals from the brink with his game-tying single in the eighth and sent them hurtling towards Atlanta with his walk-off sac fly in the 10th. His heroics capped a team effort, but St. Louis was only in a position to do so because of Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, who combined for three homers off Dallas Keuchel to provide the Cards an early lead.

Goldschmidt and Ozuna became the first pair of Cardinals since Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk in 2015 to hit back-to-back homers in a postseason game, when they connected for consecutive solo shots in the first. Ozuna then notched the seventh multihomer game in Cardinals postseason history -- and first since Carlos Beltrán in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS -- when he cranked another solo home run in the fourth. Goldschmidt added two doubles, including one that set up the tying run in the eighth.

Including Monday's result, in each of the 10 instances in postseason history that a team has knocked back-to-back homers in the first inning, the club has gone on to win the game.

Simply put, the guys who were brought in to power the offense powered it when the Cardinals needed it most.

“I’m happy to be here right now,” Ozuna said. “It’s the kind of moment I’ve been waiting for a long time.”

Playing in the postseason for the first time after 931 regular-season games, Ozuna is 8-for-17 (.471) with five extra-base hits over the first four games of this Division Series. His two homers on Monday were his first. Goldschmidt is 7-for-16 (.438) with five extra-base hits as well.

“That’s why you work so hard; you want to get a chance to play in October,” Goldschmidt said. “I just try to enjoy it. The focus and intensity and all that comes just because you know the situation. So try and enjoy it and try to help us win.”

The duo delivered the types of hits in the types of situations the Cardinals envisioned when they acquired Ozuna and Goldschmidt -- less than a year apart -- in two different trades, but for the same reason. The deal for Ozuna required the Cardinals to part with Sandy Alcantara and three others in the hopes of boosting an offense that ranked league-average in runs and homers in 2017. They traded for and extended Goldschmidt last winter to further bolster that unit and set it up for years to come.

“Super happy for him, [and] all the guys,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said, when asked about Ozuna, who will become a free agent after the postseason. “From the first day he got here and the process that’s taken place leading up to now, he gets hungrier and hungrier wanting sincerely to be in this position.”

Together, Ozuna and Goldschmidt have been a boon this series for a Cardinals offense that has struggled to gain traction against Atlanta’s stable of starting pitching. With the pair producing, the Cardinals scored 12 combined runs over Games 1 and 4. They mustered just one between Games 2 and 3. The Cardinals have four homers this series, with Ozuna and Goldschmidt hitting all of them.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.