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Back in Chicago, Fowler's grand slam fuels win

July 10, 2018

CHICAGO -- Back in Chicago, where he won a World Series championship with the Cubs two years ago, William Fowler insisted before Tuesday's series opener against the White Sox that he was "moving on" following a tumultuous week in which he responded to comments critical of his effort and energy

CHICAGO -- Back in Chicago, where he won a World Series championship with the Cubs two years ago, William Fowler insisted before Tuesday's series opener against the White Sox that he was "moving on" following a tumultuous week in which he responded to comments critical of his effort and energy level.
Hours later, one swing offered the temporary respite he needed.
Fowler capped the Cardinals' seven-run sixth inning in Tuesday's 14-2 rout at Guaranteed Rate Field with his fourth career grand slam -- a 393-foot blast that elicited a grin and likely a sigh of relief as he led the team's dugout conga line for a change. A four-hit night from Kolten Wong and quality start by All-Star Miles Mikolas further highlighted an Interleague victory in which the Cardinals set a season high in runs scored, while sending the White Sox to a sixth consecutive loss.
"I just know that it's the stuff that you don't go home and just forget about," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Fowler's forgettable first half. "I mean, he's dragging this with him all the time. And to be in there in a big situation, be able to make it happen, do his part, is what he loves doing."

One swing won't remedy all, but the Cardinals can hope it sparks the start of a second-half surge for their struggling right fielder. Fowler drew the start -- only his ninth in 26 games -- largely because the club was short on other options. Tommy Pham and Harrison Bader were ailing. Jose Martinez slotted in as the designated hitter so the Cardinals didn't have to expose him in the field.
Fowler has yearned for opportunities to prove his first-half slump was a fluke, and this time, he took advantage. Fowler, who hadn't homered since May 6, stayed in the game to face reliever Hector Santiago despite dismal numbers (.075 slugging percentage) against left-handed pitching this season. With one swing, Fowler tallied more total bases off a lefty on Tuesday than he had in the team's first 89 games combined.
"Obviously, the at-bats have been few and far between this year, but finally got back, got on time and barreled some [balls]," Fowler said. "It's awesome, especially when I've been scuffling at the plate, trying to get [my] timing and stuff. I got a good pitch to hit, and got the result."

The inning built toward Fowler with plenty of assistance from the White Sox, who issued four walks (including one with the bases loaded) and allowed runs on a passed ball and wild pitch from reliever Bruce Rondon. Santiago entered as Fowler came to the plate, and after falling behind, 1-0, left Fowler a center-cut sinker that Fowler lifted into the left-field seats for his first career grand slam from the right side.
The seven-run inning tied a season high for the Cardinals, who also scored seven in the seventh inning on April 12 against the Reds. Ten batters came to the plate in the frame.
"We know Dex can hit. We know Dex can play. And it's just a matter of time before he came out, just like me," Wong said. "Everybody in here, we all believe in each other. We know that we're all big leaguers for a reason. And it's just a matter of time before things start clicking."

Production came from thoughout the Cardinals' lineup all night. Martinez reached base five times, Jedd Gyorko reached four times and Matt Carpenter thrice. And Wong punctuated his first four-hit game since 2014 with an eighth-inning home run. The 14 runs were the second most scored by the Cardinals in an Interleague game in franchise history.
All the support backed Mikolas, who made his 12th start of at least six innings with two or fewer runs allowed and became the first Cardinals starter to reach the 10-win mark this season. Two days after being named an All-Star for the first time, Mikolas blew a two-run lead early in the third, but faced the minimum in his other five innings.

Wong homers late: Though the game's outcome wasn't in question, Wong capped his night with a two-run blast off Santiago's 2-1 sinker in the eighth. Wong's seventh home run -- which traveled 409 feet with an exit velocity of 102.4 mph, per Statcast™ -- pulled his average up to .221, just below his season high mark of .222 reached on May 6. After tallying six multi-hit games over the first three months of the season, Wong has notched four in the team's last five games.
"I'm just really focused on seeing the ball, hitting the ball now," Wong said. "That's a great feeling to have, knowing that everything's where it needs to be. Now, it's just about competing and seeing the pitches that I know I can hit."

Martinez followed a pair of two-out singles with one of his own in the third to drive in the club's first run off White Sox starter Dylan Covey. Martinez leads the Majors in hits (20) and RBIs (25) with two outs and runners in scoring position.

Wong helped spark the Cardinals' seven-run sixth with the second fastest single by a Cardinals player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Wong raced down the first-base line in 3.64 seconds after laying down a bunt with a runner on first and no outs. He fell just short of his own club record, which is 3.62 seconds, set last year.

"He hit the one off me from the left side, so it was a little different look. But I was really happy to see this one this time, as opposed to last time." -- Mikolas, who gave up Fowler's first career grand slam in 2012
The Cardinals wrap up their two-game series with the White Sox on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT before another day off Thursday. Luke Weaver (5-7, 4.92 ERA) takes the hill for St. Louis coming off his longest outing of the season. Weaver pitched eight innings against the Giants, giving up two runs on two hits while striking out seven. Left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-3, 4.29) goes for the White Sox.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. reporter Max Gelman contributed to this story.