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Wong leads Cards' immediate breakthrough

Adjusting to top spot, second baseman doubles to spark five-run first inning

ST. LOUIS -- Before many of the 41,567 fans settled into their seats for a matinee at Busch Stadium on Wednesday, the Cardinals equaled their run total from their previous 33 innings.

Sparked by a Kolten Wong leadoff double, St. Louis plated five runners against Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson in the first inning, giving itself a comfortable lead that it extended and then clung to for a 7-4 series-clinching win over the Brewers.

The seven runs were the most in a game for the Cardinals since a May 20 win over the Mets.

"That's what you talk about hopefully happening after you get a couple of days without any kind of buildup with our offense at all," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You look at our first eight batters we had, every one of them got a hit or did something situational to get a run in, and that's a great way to start your day and it gave [starting pitcher] John [Lackey] some room to work."

Video: [email protected]: Cardinals jump out early with five-run 1st

Wong has reached base in 8-of-16 game-opening plate appearances this season while adapting to the leadoff slot, a role he has rarely filled for an extended period of time before.

"It's kind of been trials here and there," Wong said. "Most coaches don't really like me being a leadoff hitter just because I'm so aggressive, but I've learned how to kind of be aggressive but in the zone and be someone who can still see pitches and get on base."

Though runs have been at a premium for the Cardinals recently, they have scored in the first inning in six of their last eight games. Wong has scored nine runs over the last nine games he's started, and Wednesday's double was his third to open a game this season.

"I kind of just bought into the fact that being a leadoff hitter, you need to have your own style," Wong said. "For me, I'm still aggressive, I'll still swing at the first pitch, but I'm making sure when I swing early in the count, it's on balls I know I can drive. When I do that and stay aggressive in the strike zone, I'm doing fine."

David Cobb is an associate reporter for
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