PHOENIX -- There was relief, yes, but not satisfaction in Tommy Pham's voice after he snapped a string of 31 consecutive hitless at-bats over the weekend. That's because, Pham insisted, there remained work to be done with his swing.Never one to believe he's reached the finish line, Pham predictably picked
PHOENIX -- There was relief, yes, but not satisfaction in Tommy Pham's voice after he snapped a string of 31 consecutive hitless at-bats over the weekend. That's because, Pham insisted, there remained work to be done with his swing.
Never one to believe he's reached the finish line, Pham predictably picked apart his performance on Wednesday night, too. Others around him, however, stepped in to provide the necessary praise. Pham's trio of hits with runners in scoring position sparked a flurry of late scoring for the Cardinals, who used the jolt to snare an 8-4 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.
"When he's right, he just shines," manager Mike Matheny said of his center fielder. "Any particular night, it might just click."
Before Pham's fifth-inning single, the Cardinals had endured seven fruitless attempts to advance a runner from second. Two of those missed opportunities had come from Pham, who, after batting .305 with runners in scoring position last season, entered the night with a .214 average in such spots this year.
But his single off starter Patrick Corbin dented Arizona's two-run lead, and two innings later, he followed Yairo Munoz's home run by delivering a go-ahead single against reliever Yoshihisa Hirano. Hirano, who had retired Pham in a key bases-loaded spot in Tuesday's loss, had not allowed a run in his previous 26 appearances.
"It was a 1-0 count and I was trying to get a strike," Hirano said, speaking through an interpreter. "I got a little more of the plate than I wanted to."
Pham's second of three RBI hits then opened the floodgates. Yadier Molina punctuated the five-run seventh with a three-run home run off former batterymate Noel Salas.
A run-scoring double by Pham in the following inning gave him as many hits with runners in scoring position on Wednesday (three) as he had collected since May 19. He hadn't produced a three-hit game in nearly seven weeks.
"I've been feeling like I've been seeing the ball better for a few games now," Pham said. "I haven't had big-time results yet, but did a good job today of barreling up the fastball. I've been getting into better counts. I've been seeing the ball better. I'm looking to continue to build on this."
The support bailed out Miles Mikolas, who issued an uncharacteristic four walks over six innings as he struggled to get a proper grip in the dry Arizona heat. The D-backs scored a pair of two-out runs off Mikolas in the fourth, but he stranded another eight runners over his first four innings.
"Both pitchers were kind of getting out of jams, kind of waiting for who was going to break there," Mikolas said. "They got a few off me in that one inning, kept putting the bat on the ball. I had a good feeling we were going to score."
And once again, Mikolas made the most of a little help; he improved to 9-0 when receiving two or more runs of support. Mikolas' five road wins lead all Cardinals starters, and with an ERA of 2.63 through 16 starts, Mikolas may have cemented his spot as a first-time All-Star with his 12th quality start. Only three National League pitchers have more.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
On a night when he caught Ted Simmons for 15th place on Major League Baseball's all-time list with 1,771 games caught, Molina also delivered with his three-run blast. Molina ambushed Salas with his third first-pitch home run this year, and this one gave the Cardinals a four-run cushion. It was Molina's 13th home run of the season, but his first with two or more runners on base. He's hit 12 of his homers on the road, the fourth-highest total in the National League.
BATTERED AND BRUISED
Though the Cardinals escaped Arizona with a series victory, they didn't leave completely unscathed. Three separate times, the Cardinals had a player visited on the field by a team athletic trainer. Matt Carpenter tweaked his ankle running the bases in the eighth. Munoz took a pitch to his stomach in the same inning. And Bud Norris felt something in his finger -- "kind of a stinger," Matheny said -- during his ninth-inning appearance.
Additionally, Matheny said that pinch-hitter Tyler O'Neill "said he felt a little something coming around the bases" as he scored in the seventh.
"It was one of those nights," Matheny said. "The Arizona heat must have dehydrated us."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Norris made a record-setting appearance on Wednesday … with his decision to enter via the bullpen cart. Norris became the ninth pitcher to utilize the bullpen cart when he rode in for a save opportunity on Monday. But with Wednesday's ride, he matched Sean Doolittle as the only relievers to utilize the bullpen cart twice this season. Surely, Norris had no regrets with his transport decision, either, as he pitched scoreless innings in both appearances.
HE SAID IT
"Stacking those hits together, it's fun to watch this offense go when they do that. The guys did a nice job of just keep playing the game. Early in the game, when you are down and something happens, you have a lot of game to get it fixed, and they guys did a nice job of fixing it." -- Matheny
William Fowler, who has been away on paternity leave, will rejoin the Cardinals on Thursday at 9:15 p.m. CT, when the team begins a four-game series at AT&T Park. What sort of playing time awaits Fowler remains to be seen, as the Cardinals are also mixing in right-field starts for Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez. Luke Weaver (4-7, 5.16 ERA) draws the start for the Cardinals against Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto (3-0, 0.84 ERA).
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.