Nolan Arenado quickly fell behind versus a hard-throwing pitcher with a knack for painting corners.
Instead of tensing up, the seven-time All-Star shortened up, found a pitch he could hit and shot the ball through the right side of the infield.
Arenado hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning and finished with three RBI, helping the St. Louis Cardinals stretch their winning streak to seven matches with a 6-4 triumph over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
“He knows when to take the shots and when to just take whatever is given to him,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “That’s a perfect example of taking what he’s given.” Trailing 4-3, the Cardinals loaded the bases in the seventh after pinch-hitter Albert Pujols singled off Joe Mantiply (1-4) and Kevin Ginkel hit Paul Goldschmidt with a pitch.
Arenado, who had a run-scoring single in the first inning, fell behind 1-2 against Ginkel, but lined a single to right-center to put St. Louis up 5-4.
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Jake Woodford (2-0) allowed a hit in 1 1/3 innings and Giovanny Gallegos worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save to complete the NL Central-leading Cardinals’ seventh sweep this season.
Lars Nootbaar hit his first career leadoff homer and Tommy Edman added a run-scoring single in the eighth inning for St. Louis’ 16th win in 19 games.
“The guys are just continuing to compete regardless of situation, regardless of score, and that’s what you want at this time of the year,” Marmol said.
Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly had been sharp for nearly two months, allowing two runs or less in eight of nine starts.
The veteran right-hander was in trouble almost from the first pitch against St. Louis, giving up Nootbaar’s leadoff homer and Arenado’s run-scoring single. Another run came in when Nolan Gorman hit into a double play, matching the runs Kelly allowed his previous two starts combined.
“Kelly did a nice job,” Marmol said. “Their starter was good and for us to come out the way we did, put together at-bats with the homer and then the singles. That was that was a really good first inning.”
Kelly got a boost from an inning-ending double play in the second and fell into a rhythm after that. He worked around two baserunners twice, permitting three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in six innings.
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