ST. LOUIS -- After a week of lamenting so many leads lost, this time it was the Cardinals who initiated a come-from-behind win on Friday. Hours after the organization announced a series of roster and staff changes designed to try to kickstart a club that had lost seven straight games, the Cardinals watched a resurgent Michael Wacha, lively offense and game-ending catch offer provide just enough to hold off the Phillies for a 3-2 victory at Busch Stadium.
The victory helped the Cardinals avoid their longest losing streak since 2007.
"I can't think of a bigger win," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That was a tough game and it's been a tough stretch -- a tough stretch of games, a tough stretch of losses, a tough stretch of tough losses. This is a tough team, and that's going to make it that much more special when we figure out how to do it on a more consistent basis."
Philadelphia jumped out to a two-run lead by stringing together three two-out hits off Wacha in the third. But after allowing RBI knocks to Tommy Joseph and Aaron Altherr, Wacha limited the Phillies to one hit over the rest of his six-inning start. The outing represented a step back in a positive direction for the right-hander, who had allowed 15 earned runs in his previous three starts, none of which lasted five innings.
The Cardinals' offense peppered Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson for 10 hits in six innings. Matt Carpenter and William Fowler sparked a two-run rally to tie the game in the third, and Aledmys Diaz lifted a fifth-inning homer to give St. Louis its first lead of the night.
"I have to keep it a tie ballgame the way Wacha is throwing and the bullpen they have," Hellickson said. "Fifth, sixth inning, tie ballgame, I have to keep it there. I felt like I threw the ball well, just not good enough."
A club that lost leads in the seventh or eighth innings five times on its last road trip used a Statcast-rated, four-star catch by left fielder Tommy Pham to hold onto this one. Pham's catch of Freddy Galvis' liner came after closer Seunghwan Oh struck out Andrew Knapp with the potential tying run on third and one out.
"We can't sit back and keep letting games just disappear from us," Pham said. "If anybody knows the importance of every game, it's us because we missed the playoffs by one game [last year]. I'm trying to get back to October baseball."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Long gone: Diaz had gone 124 at-bats without a homer before taking Hellickson deep. The home run was the 12th allowed by Hellickson in his last eight starts (42 innings) and came six pitches after he had cleared the bases with a double play. According to Statcast™, Diaz's drive traveled 412 feet after coming off his bat at 100.9 mph.
"He tried to surprise me with two strikes, and I just stayed focused and hit the ball to the middle of the field," said Diaz, who connected on a 2-2 changeup. "I think it's special to hit a homer to win the game, to help my team to win. It's good to be back, listening to music after the game is fun again."
• Hellickson labors with execution
Snappy seventh: Matheny was once again aggressive in pulling his starter early, as Wacha's night ended at 86 pitches. This time, though, his bullpen rewarded the decision. The seventh inning, which has been problematic for the Cardinals this season, was not an issue, as Matt Bowman struck out the side on 16 pitches. Entering the night, the Cardinals had been outscored, 42-18, in that frame.
"Beautiful," Matheny said of the bullpen's work. "Bowman couldn't have been any better."
"It definitely feels good to have the music blaring in here after a win. It's been a while, so it's good to get back in that win column. -- Wacha, after earning his first win since April 19
"I feel like I made good contact, but ... he was shaded to the line a little bit. I hit it good, but when I saw him running I knew he had a pretty good jump to catch the ball." -- Galvis, on Pham's diving catch in left field to end the game
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Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera's streak of six consecutive games with a double ended. It tied a franchise record with Bobby Abreu (2000) and Heinie Sand (1925).
Phillies: Rookie Nick Pivetta (1-2, 5.18 ERA) starts Saturday at 2:15 p.m. ET in the second game of the three-game series. Pivetta allowed three runs in five innings Monday in a victory over the Braves, but he still has been unable to pitch more than five innings in any of his first five starts.
Cardinals: The series against the Phillies continues on Saturday with a 1:15 p.m. CT matchup. Drawing the start for St. Louis will be Carlos Martinez, who has finished six or more innings in eight straight starts. Martinez is averaging the third-lowest run support average (2.84) in the National League.
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