ST. LOUIS -- Not 12 hours after an equipment malfunction left Tommy Pham bleeding from his head in the bowels of Busch Stadium, the Cardinals' center fielder convinced his manager he could play. Then he returned to the batting cage and the resistance-band drills that just a night before left him dazed, disappointed and doused in blood.
"We're facing [Noah] Syndergaard," Pham said. "Man, I gotta do something."
It took an extra-large cap, two layers of bandaging and some considerable dry cleaning to get Pham ready for the Cardinals' 4-3 win over the Mets on Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium. But Pham worked his way back into the lineup, and nearly single-handedly willed his club to a win.
Few were more responsible for the Cards' triumph than Pham, who sparked three separate rallies that set the stage for William Fowler's walk-off single in the 13th.
"Apparently it didn't affect his vision. He was good to go. He's locked in," manager Mike Matheny said. "Happy to see the mishap last night didn't have any lasting effects."
Pham arrived early to the stadium Thursday, not long removed from the freak injury that forced him out of Wednesday's 9-1 win over the Mets early. Trainers applied a large gauze pad to the gash across Pham's right temple, covering the laceration that resulted when he accidentally hit himself with the barrel of his bat. Pham covered the gauze with what he called a "therapeutic do-rag," then a cap one size larger than normal.
Pham wore a standard helmet Thursday, and though it was twice knocked off on the basepaths, he reported no lingering effects of the injury.
"Other than just a big welt, that's pretty much it," Pham said. "It could've been worse. So I'm just extremely lucky and happy that it wasn't worse."
Pham finished 4-for-6 with two runs scored and another driven in, all of which were noteworthy. His double sparked St. Louis' first rally off Syndergaard in the seventh, and his single off Robert Gsellman tied the game an inning later, after Syndergaard was finally chased from the contest. Down a run again in the 10th, Pham singled with two out against Mets closer Jeurys Familia, then scored on Jose Martinez's game-tying double a batter later.
"For us to not quit there, for us to step up when we needed it, was huge," Pham said. "It stinks being on the losing side of those games, so I'm just glad we came out victorious."
Gant called up; Brebbia optioned
As is common practice now around the league, the Cardinals swapped optionable relievers Thursday in search of a fresh arm. The club optioned John Brebbia to Triple-A Memphis, the day after Brebbia tossed three scoreless innings for his first career save.
John Gant was recalled in a corresponding move to assume a similar role in the Cardinals' bullpen, at least in the short term.
"Right now we need someone here who can help us, in case we need multiple innings," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Brebbia's workload saved the Cardinals' bullpen on Wednesday as the club cruised to a 9-1 win over the Mets, but the lengthy outing will likely sideline him for a few days. Instead of playing a game down a pitcher, the club summoned Gant, who last pitched Saturday.
Gant's first big league stint of the season is expected to be a short one, with the club planning to promote No. 2 prospect Jack Flaherty to start Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Flaherty will be pitching in Adam Wainwright's rotation spot. Brebbia's save came in his lone appearance after he was recalled Sunday, when Wainwright landed on the disabled list with right elbow soreness. Brebbia has yet to allow a run in three appearances -- across three stints -- this season.
Rains stalls a road back
Reliever Sam Tuivailala, on the disabled list with a left knee strain, was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Memphis on Wednesday, but the Redbirds were postponed.