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After tempers flare, Walker, D-backs cool Cards

Righty keeps calm after benches-clearing incident, fires 6 strong innings
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Throughout it all -- cold and windy conditions, his manager ejected and a benches-clearing incident -- D-backs right-hander Taijuan Walker continued to pound the strike zone and record out after out.

Though he didn't get the win, he certainly deserved a great deal of credit for the D-backs' 4-1 win over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- Throughout it all -- cold and windy conditions, his manager ejected and a benches-clearing incident -- D-backs right-hander Taijuan Walker continued to pound the strike zone and record out after out.

Though he didn't get the win, he certainly deserved a great deal of credit for the D-backs' 4-1 win over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

"I just went out there and attacked," Walker said. "That's kind of been my mindset coming into the season: Just go out there and attack with the fastball and get ahead, sprinkle my off-speed pitches in there, and just try to make them put the ball in play."

Walker allowed just one run on three hits over six innings, though his performance was overshadowed by an altercation between D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the second inning that led to both benches clearing but no punches being thrown.

"Taijuan did a fantastic job," said Lovullo, who watched the final seven-plus innings on the television in the visiting manager's office. "I know he was frustrated coming out of the game when he did. I felt like he could have gone back out there and continued pitching, but he turned it over to the bullpen. I thought it was a great team effort. Taijuan stood on it today and did a great job."

Video: ARI@STL: Walker nabs Pham at first base

The D-backs tied the game in the seventh on a Nick Ahmed bloop single to right, but it was David Peralta who gave them the lead for good with a two-run homer in the eighth.

"Every time you hit a home run, it feels good," Peralta said. "It's better when you do something to get ahead in the game. It's a situation when you have to take advantage of a mistake, and that's why we're looking for a mistake."

Peralta, who began his pro career as a pitcher in the Cardinals' organization, idolized Molina. The veteran catcher would take the organization's young Latin players out for dinner and help them with their adjustment to playing pro ball.

In fact, as Peralta talked to reporters after the game, a signed Molina jersey could be seen in the back of his locker.

"He'd take us for lunch and pay for everything," Peralta said. "It really means a lot to me. I was telling myself, 'One day I'm going to be like him. I've got the ability to do that, and I'm going to do that for the Minor League guys.'

"For us, we go through a lot of hard situations, leaving our family at a young age and being here by ourselves. Him, and I remember when [Albert] Pujols was with the Cardinals, he was doing that every week for us. It means a lot to me. That's what I told him, 'Hey, I admire you, and it's not because you're a good player. Of course you're a good player, but it's because the type of person you are.'"

With the win, the D-backs took two of three from the Cardinals and now head to San Francisco for three games before finishing the road trip with a three-game series against the Dodgers.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Extra bases: Neither club's first run would have scored without aggressive baserunning. The typically slow-footed Molina raced into scoring position in an unusual way in the fifth inning, tagging up from second on a flyout to left after leading off the frame with a single. He scored when Kolten Wong dribbled a single through the left side. Meanwhile, A.J. Pollock scored the tying run after stealing second with one out. Pollock was actually caught in a rundown after a pickoff play by Cards reliever Tyler Lyons, but first baseman Jose Martinez dropped the ball while pivoting to make the exchange. Pollock then scored on Ahmed's bloop single.

Video: ARI@STL: Ahmed drives in Pollock with RBI single

Break it up: Home-plate umpire Tim Timmons worked hard to separate Lovullo and Molina in the second after Lovullo mentioned Molina in his argument with Timmons. Both appeared to make contact with the umpire during the skirmish, opening up the possibility of disciplinary review from Major League Baseball.

Video: ARI@STL: Lovullo ejected, benches clear in St. Louis

"I'm just human," Lovullo said. "I'm like everybody else, and I see things and react to things, and I was frustrated. I don't want to say he's getting more than anybody else. It's part of the game that's very real. But I just was frustrated over what I was watching, and it showed. I probably need to do a better job of that."

QUOTABLE
"I wish I could take back what I said. But it really wasn't directed at him. It was more a term of me saying I respect him on that level, that he's getting special things because he's that good. That's where I was coming from through the whole thing." Lovullo, on the incident with Molina

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With the victory, Lovullo became the quickest manager in Arizona history to reach 100 wins, doing it in 171 games. He received a postgame beer shower from his coaching staff.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Congratulations to Torey Lovullo on becoming the fastest manager in #Dbacks history (and the fastest active manager) to reach 💯 career wins. pic.twitter.com/iJacW5XEfR

"I didn't really know that," Lovullo said. "I just know that it was my 100th win. Everyone made me well aware of that. Those are things that are fairly unimportant to me. Being here with the guys and fighting every day with them and enjoying the ups and downs of the season and being the Arizona Diamondbacks manager is my greatest joy."

NO. 1 FOR HIRANO
D-backs right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano picked up his first Major League win Sunday. Hirano, who was signed out of Japan in the offseason, had 48 wins and 156 saves in the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Credit today's win to Yoshihisa Hirano, the first W of his @MLB career. pic.twitter.com/G0FjsaPMAI

WHAT'S NEXT
The D-backs open a three-game series with the Giants on Monday night at AT&T Park, the first meeting of the year between the division rivals, with Zack Godley getting the start for the D-backs. He was outstanding in his first start of the year, holding the Dodgers to one run over seven innings. He is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA in four games (two starts) in his career against San Francisco. Game time is 7:15 p.m. MST.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Taijuan Walker