Friday, April 17, 2015

Lackey goes 7 in Cardinals' shutout of Brewers

 After five innings of watching starters Mike Fiers and John Lackey trade zeros on the scoreboard, the Cardinals, buoyed once again byMatt Carpenter and Matt Holliday, broke out with enough late offense to steal a 4-0 win and series victory over the Brewers on Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
Carpenter contributed a pair of doubles (his third and fourth of the season), both of which highlighted run-scoring innings. His leadoff double off of Fiers in the sixth put him in position to score on Holliday's one-out single to center. An RBI double from former Brewer Mark Reynolds, making his second start of the season, padded the lead later in the inning. More >
"I was looking for a pitch up in the zone that I can hit up in the air, and he left a fastball over the middle," said Reynolds, who recorded his first multi-hit game as a Cardinal. "I was able to put a good swing on it."
Both runs were charged to Fiers, now 0-2 to open the season. The Cardinals scored again an inning later when Kolten Wong aggressively stretched a single into an extra-base hit, allowing him to score easily on another Carpenter double. Yadier Molina tacked on the final run with an eighth-inning single, scoring Randal Grichuk, who doubled.
After leaving 11 runners on base Wednesday, the Brewers stranded another eight in the series finale. The club went hitless against Lackey with runners in scoring position, was limited to five singles against the right-hander and was shut out for the second time.
"These guys we're putting in this lineup, they're offensive players," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We need them to swing the way we know they can." More >
Lackey became the first Cardinals pitcher to finish seven innings this season.
A singles Holliday: Though Holliday has yet to connect for an extra-base hit this season, he's making the most of his slew of singles. Holliday, who has hit safely in all eight games, broke a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning single to center. Carpenter scored from second, and Holliday improved to 5-for-7 when hitting with runners in scoring position.
"It's an easy statement to say that a guy isn't doing this or that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the absence of extra-base hits. "But what it comes down to is us winning games and that has to do with driving in runs and getting the big hit. He's doing his job."
"I hate when he comes up," Roenicke said, "because he's gotten a lot of big hits against us over the years."
Damage control: After opening the afternoon with two easy innings, Lackey found himself in his first bit of trouble in the third. But with two on and one out, he retired All-Stars Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun on a popup and strikeout, respectively. Lackey went on to strand two runners in each of his next two innings, as well, en route to seven shutout frames. His deep start provided a welcome respite for a bullpen which has been heavily used recently. More >
"He's been here many years, proving he can pitch in this game," Molina said of Lackey. "Everything was working for him. He's a pitcher, not a thrower. First-pitch strike, strikeout pitch, slider was good, a lot of strikeouts. He was good."
Fiers escapes the first: Fiers remained winless but pitched quite a good game before the Cardinals touched him for four hits and two runs in the sixth inning. Fiers showed he had his good stuff in the first inning, when Holliday and Jhonny Peralta hit successive two-out singles but Fiers froze former teammate Reynolds with a curveball for a critical called third strike. Fiers surrendered only one more hit from the second inning through the fifth before finding trouble in the sixth.
"Our batting average with runners in scoring position is very bad right now. It's terrible. We need to do better at that. We need to figure it out, do something. I'm putting myself in that because I've been pretty awful. We've got to get it together." -- Lucroy, lamenting the Brewers' ongoing offensive struggles.
"I like to compete. I like to get after it. I consider myself a pretty nice guy four out of five days." -- Lackey, when informed that his manager described him as a "crusty" fellow.
Brewers: After losing two of three to Pittsburgh last weekend at Miller Park, the Brewers get another crack at the Pirates beginning Friday at 6:05 p.m. CT, when Jimmy Nelson matches up against Jeff Locke at PNC Park. Nelson threw 24 curveballs while defeating the Pirates in a dazzling debut, but may have to adjust to beat the Bucs again six days later. The Brewers will be without center fielder and leadoff man Carlos Gomez, who was diagnosed with "a small defect" in his right hamstring and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. More >
Cardinals: The Cardinals will open up a three-game series against the Reds on Friday, with the first pitch at Busch Stadium scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CT. The game will be preceded by a ceremony honoring Cardinals Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, who has begun his 70th season in professional baseball. St. Louis took two of three games in Cincinnati last weekend, though the series ended on an agitated note with Reds manager Bryan Price upset at Jason Heyward's hard slide into third.

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