Cards touch up Harang in big four-run fifth inning
ST. LOUIS -- Buoyed by a four-run fifth against a pitcher that had allowed that many runs in his first four starts combined, the Cardinals grabbed a 5-2 win over the Phillies at Busch Stadium on Wednesday to ensure that they'll end April without losing a single series.
All five runs came against Philadelphia righty Aaron Harang, now 7-16 in his career against the Cardinals. Harang held a 2-1 lead until the Cardinals batted around in the fifth while scoring four runs in an inning for the first time this year. Kolten Wong, who had earlier delivered an RBI hit, sparked the big inning with a leadoff single. Five consecutive batters then reached with one out to run the Cardinals' lead to three.
The support was sufficient for Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez, who, in covering six innings, has pitched at least that deep in all four of his starts. He served up a game-tying solo homer to Ryan Howard -- the St. Louis native's 11th in 33 games at Busch Stadium -- and scattered five other hits.
"He gets in trouble a little bit, just missing with some changeups to Howard, but he challenges him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's a guy who can hurt you when you get into those counts. … He had a nice changeup today, used his breaking ball, had guys chasing out of the zone and still had all the velocity he needed."
Martinez's ability to wiggle out of trouble after allowing two hits and two walks in the fifth set up the Cardinals' come-from-behind win.
"Yeah, actually the whole game I thought was decided in the fifth," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, referring to the Phillies' offensive deficiencies in the top half and the Cardinals' execution in the bottom half. "It would've been nice to get one more run there for Harang and who knows, that might've made a difference in the bottom half."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Burst of speed: Matheny made the unorthodox decision to start Peter Bourjos, 1-for-10 this season, in the leadoff spot, gambling on the fact that Bourjos had seven career hits in 15 at-bats against Harang. The move paid off, as Bourjos drove home the tying run with a fifth-inning triple off Harang that sparked a four-run inning. His speed also allowed him to score on a bang-bang play at the plate that the Phillies unsuccessfully challenged. Bourjos later ran down what would have been a run-scoring extra-base hit by Chase Utley. More >
"It's kind of been few and far between because I haven't played consistently and the starts are here and there," Bourjos said. "But it's fun to go out there and run around and make plays like that and use my speed. That's what my game is built around."
Harang finally cracks: Harang had been one of the team's few bright spots this month, but he struggled in his final start of April. Harang had allowed a combined four earned runs in 26 1/3 innings in four starts before allowing five earned runs in six innings. A four-run fifth inning turned a 2-1 Phillies lead into a 5-2 Cardinals lead. More >
Running down Revere:The Cardinals' defense helped bail Martinez out of the fifth by catching Ben Revere straying too far from third. Revere rounded third after Odubel Herrera's go-ahead single, but he was held up there as right fielder Jason Heyward fired the ball home. Yadier Molina then made a snap throw to third to start a rundown that ended with Revere as the second out of the inning. Martinez worked around further damage with an inning-ending strikeout of Jeff Francoeur.
Just one in the fifth: The Phillies had an opportunity for a big fifth inning, but scored just once. It involved a botched bunt, a big base-running mistake and a big spot for cleanup hitter Francoeur, who struck out to end the inning. More >
"That was one of those ones where you're running thinking, 'Let's slide. No, I don't need to slide. Yeah, I need to slide. No, I'm not going to slide. Yeah, let's slide.'" -- Harang, on advancing to third on a wild pitch in the fifth inning. He decided late and awkwardly slid over the base
"At some point, you kind of feel bad because he hits two line drives and a ground ball right at me. I'm playing pretty deep. If I'm playing up close, I don't know if I'm making those plays at all, -- Wong, on using the shift to steal three hits away from Howard.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is hitting .114 this month, which is tied for the lowest batting average in April in franchise history (minimum 40 plate appearances). Roy Sievers hit .114 in April 1962. Third-lowest on the list is Billy Kelly, who hit .119 in April 1928.
After the game, the Cardinals announced that they have optioned catcher Cody Stanley to Triple-A to make room on the 25-man roster for left-hander Tim Cooney, who will start Thursday's game.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Phillies lost a challenge in the fifth inning. Bourjos scored on a play at the plate, but the Phillies thought Howard's throw and Carlos Ruiz's block of the play had nabbed Bourjos. The play stood as called.
"As he hit me, my foot popped up," Bourjos said. "I knew it was close. I didn't know how close until I came in here [to see it on video]. I think it's a good thing they called me safe because it would have been tough to overturn."
Phillies: Phillies right-hander David Buchanan hopes to build off his last start Saturday against the Braves. He allowed two hits, three runs, three walks and struck out three in 6 2/3 innings, easily making it his best start of the season. Buchanan had allowed 14 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings in his previous three starts.
Cardinals: Lefty Tim Cooney will make his Major League debut Thursday against the Phillies, his favorite childhood team. Cooney, who still resides outside Philadelphia, was summoned once the Cardinals had to go searching for a rotation replacement for Adam Wainwright.
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