ST. LOUIS -- When Luke Voit arrived in the big leagues 12 days ago, he did so with transparent intentions. Asked how he expected to contribute as a rookie without a certain role, Voit noted that he had arrived ready to hit "bombs and doubles."Starting at first base for the
ST. LOUIS -- When Luke Voit arrived in the big leagues 12 days ago, he did so with transparent intentions. Asked how he expected to contribute as a rookie without a certain role, Voit noted that he had arrived ready to hit "bombs and doubles."
Starting at first base for the fourth consecutive day, Voit connected for one of each on Thursday. The two run-scoring hits accounted for the Cardinals' first three runs in an eventual 4-3 win over the Marlins at Busch Stadium. The victory salvaged a series split for the home team.
"Good game today," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Tom [Koehler] pitched well enough, kept us in the game. We ended up giving up four runs, but guys out of the bullpen did a nice job for us. I thought the guys fought all day long. It was a really good game, actually."
After Marcell Ozuna pushed the Marlins ahead, 1-0, with the first of his three RBI singles, Voit crushed a 446-foot, second-inning home run into the section of the stands -- Big Mac Land -- made famous by his former idol, Mark McGwire.
"Another 'wow' moment," Voit said. "It was one of those where I could watch it, and especially when it landed there, it was just like 'wow.' [It's] something I grew up wanting to do my whole life, and to do it here is pretty sweet. [I'm] definitely going to remember that forever."
An inning later, Voit's opposite-field double plated two to give St. Louis the lead.
"What a great day for Luke," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That wasn't one of those fall-over, swing-so-hard that you can't even keep your feet. It was a controlled stroke, stayed back on a breaking ball. And then to be able stay back and have the kind of strength he had to hit the ball to right field like he did in another big situation, that was big."
Both of Voit's hits came off Koehler, whose 8.33 ERA entering the day ranked last among all pitchers with at least 40 innings. Koehler covered five innings on Thursday, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks. Opposing starter Michael Wacha fell one out short of a third consecutive quality start, but did strike out nine over 5 2/3 effective innings. Ozuna, who leads the National League with 67 RBIs, drove in the only runs against him.
• Wacha ends 1st half strong, looks to build
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Stingy relief: Mattingly deployed his best bat off the bench, Giancarlo Stanton, after Wacha issued a pair of two-out walks in the sixth. Matheny countered by bringing in Matt Bowman, who had allowed just four of 21 inherited runners to score this season. Bowman stranded two more and preserved the Cardinals' lead by inducing an inning-ending forceout.
"We keep kind of putting him in those high, high-leverage spots, expecting big things, and he seems to get it done," Matheny said of Bowman. "It's impressive. Not everybody has the ability to come into an inning like that and make the kind of pitches that he's been consistently making."
Brett Cecil and Seunghwan Oh combined to strand five more runners over the final three innings.
Grichuk goes yard: Mired in a 2-for-23 stretch during which he had struck out 10 times, Randal Grichuk blasted a sixth-inning solo homer off Marlins reliever Nick Wittgren that proved to be the game-winner. The home run, Grichuk's fourth since being recalled on June 25, came off his bat at 108.7 mph and traveled 423 feet.
"I wanted to stay on the fastball that [at-bat] and stay in my legs, and I was able to battle and put a good swing on a fastball late," Grichuk said. "[It] definitely felt good, obviously, to contribute to the team and help get the 'W,' that was big. It felt good just to be able to square one up and get a hit from it."
"Just trying to get two guys in scoring position. A base hit puts us ahead. Or a sac fly ties the game. At that point, trying to get two guys in scoring position. Dee's been swinging the bat good. It didn't work." -- Mattingly, on pinch-hitting A.J. Ellis in the eighth inning, the result of which was a bunt into a double play with runners on first and second and Dee Gordon on deck
"I'd rather have a 10-run lead, but we had a great opportunity for our bullpen to be pushed up against a wall and see how they respond. They responded extremely well. We needed to see that. It's just another one of those pieces that we need to build the confidence if we expect to go on the kind of run we expect to go on." -- Matheny
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With a pair of singles on Thursday, Ichiro Suzuki passed Rod Carew to move into 23rd place on Major League Baseball's all-time hit list with 3,054, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Next for Ichiro to catch is Rickey Henderson, who tallied 3,055 career hits. Ichiro now stands alone as MLB's all-time hits leader among foreign-born players. More >
Marlins: Miami heads to San Francisco for its final series before the All-Star break. The first of three games with the Giants is set for 10:15 p.m. ET on Friday at AT&T Park. Dan Straily has been the club's most consistent starter in the first half. He faces lefty Matt Moore.
Cardinals: The Cards will close out the first half by hosting the Mets for a three-game series that begins Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Carlos Martinez will oppose Jacob deGrom in Martinez's final start before heading south for his second All-Star appearance.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.