Found August 07, 2012 on Fox Sports Midwest:
Giants-pitcher-matt-cain
ST. LOUIS -- In a potential playoff preview Monday night at Busch Stadium, the surging St. Louis Cardinals showed people that they can beat the good teams too. The Cardinals entered Monday's series opener against the NL West leading San Francisco Giants with just a 10-21 mark in their last 31 games against teams with a winning record. And with All-Star Matt Cain on the mound for the Giants, things figured to be tough. But the Cardinals continued their recent hot streak, breaking open a tie game with three huge runs in the bottom of the sixth inning en route to a key 8-2 win in the first of four games at Busch Stadium. Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter delivered the big blow, a two-out, two-run single to put the Cardinals up 5-2 and knock Cain from the game. "It's good to get back on track and hopefully we can keep this going," said Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, who allowed two runs in six innings. "Carp came in and got a huge hit and we added on after that. It was good to see, especially in the first game against a tough opponent. "I think it's us playing the way we are capable of playing, putting together good starts, swinging the bat, the bullpen coming in and doing their job and just playing good team baseball. It's what we feel like we are capable of doing." The Cardinals are 13-4 in their last 17 games but just four of those wins have come against teams with winning records. They beat up on the lowly Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers while also taking three of four from playoff contender Los Angeles. But with the Giants and Cardinals entering Monday's game with identical 59-49 records, the home teams recent stretch of strong play was put to the test. And they responded, improving to 10-1 at home since the All-Star break while handing Cain just his fifth loss of the season. Cain held the National League's best offense in check until the sixth. But as many teams have found out, the defending champs have a hard time staying quiet for nine innings. A sacrifice fly from David Freese put the Cardinals up 3-2 before singles by Yadier Molina and Jon Jay and a walk by Rafael Furcal loaded the bases with two outs. Carpenter had three hits in three previous at-bats vs. Cain, making it an easy call for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to pinch-hit him for a cruising Westbrook who had thrown just 79 pitches. And Carpenter made it 4-for-4 off Cain, lining a single to left to score a pair and extend the lead to 5-2. "You want to get on a roll late in a season like we are right now," Carpenter said. "To be playing like we are is great. Hopefully we can keep it going. We knew we had a great club. "We've had some tough injuries and I think we've weathered it pretty well. We're right where we need to be from health standpoint and way we're playing the game right now. I think if we can keep this going we'll be happy with where we finish." In a battle of the last two World Series Champions, it was the Cardinals who provided a carbon copy of several other wins they've had in recent games. The starting pitching delivered a quality start, the bullpen had three scoreless innings and the offense erupted for eight runs. Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "That's a good hitting ballclub. They're not at the top for no reason. They have some good hitters and they battled Matt well." All three facets of the game have started to come together for the Cardinals, and the wins have begun to come as well. The Cardinals picked up a game on the division leading Cincinnati Reds for the second straight day, moving to within six games with 53 left to play. They trail the Pirates by 2.5 games for the second Wild Card spot. The Giants and Dodgers are tied for the N.L. West lead at 59-50 and both are just 3.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. That puts even more importance on this week's series in St. Louis with the Cardinals and Giants potentially setting up to fight it out down the stretch for a playoff spot. "I think every series is key from here on out," said Giants catcher Buster Posey, who homered to briefly tie the game in the sixth. "I think both us and the Cardinals are in a good position and each game is key." But it was the Cardinals who took a nice first step Monday night, doing it against one of the best pitchers in baseball. "We've got some ground to make up but if we keep doing what were doing we're going to be all right," Westbrook said. "We've been playing pretty consistently for the last couple of weeks but from here on out every game is our most important game. "A win is a win, especially at this point in the year. This definitely shows when you go out and beat a guy like that, what we're capable and we just have to do it every day." The Cardinals also improved to 4-1 in their past five games against winning teams, a stat they hope to continue in the near future. They have series coming up against contenders including Arizona, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Washington. Asked about their struggles against teams with winning records in the past, Matheny said, "Only you guys know that. You guys are the ones paying attention to that. We try to focus on the things we can control and that's the game. The stats are what the stats are, you can't deny that, but we don't spent too much time looking at it." The Cardinals have spent plenty of time winning of late. And they can only hope it continues as they look to get back in the postseason for a second straight year.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Garcia nearing return to Cardinals rotation

ST. LOUIS Cardinals left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia believes he'll make just one more rehab start before being ready to rejoin the big league club. He's also pleased with the progress his left shoulder is making. Garcia, recovering from a left shoulder strain that landed him on the disabled list June 7, went 4 13 innings Saturday night during a rehab start with Double...

Lohse continues to quietly impress

ST. LOUIS When asked to name the starting pitcher who led the 2011 World Series Champion Cardinals in both wins and ERA, even some in St. Louis likely wouldn't say the correct answer of Kyle Lohse. But despite having an even better season this year, Lohse seems to be flying under the radar nationally yet again. And that appears to be just fine with him. "I don't really...

Matt Carpenter producing as a pinch-hitter

The bottom of the sixth, with the bases loaded and two out, was a pivotal moment in the St. Louis Cardinals’ Monday night’s game against the visiting San Francisco Giants. Cards manager Mike Matheny pulled starting pitcher Jake Westbrook despite the right-hander having thrown only 79 pitches and holding a narrow 3-2 lead. Matt Carpenter pinch hit and delivered a two-run single...

Westbrook, Jay, Beltran lead Cardinals over Giants

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jake Westbrook threw six solid innings and Carlos Beltran hit his 26th home run as the St. Louis Cardinals beat Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants 8-2 Monday night. The Cardinals have won four in a row overall and seven straight at home. San Francisco had a three-game winning streak stopped. Jon Jay went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs for the Cardinals. Matt...

Giants Claim Jose Mijares Off Waivers

Earlier today, the Giants acquired left-handed reliever Jose Mijares from the Kansas City Royals via waivers. The Giants simply claimed him off waivers and didn’t have to give up anything in return, so they basically got him for free. Mijares, 27, doesn’t hit free agency until 2015, and he’s actually having a very good season: he’s tossed 38.2 innings across 51 appearances...

Giants finish off weep of Rockies

DENVER -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy wasn't sure Tim Lincecum would survive the first inning Sunday. As Lincecum tried to hold on and escape what became a 36-pitch ordeal, Bochy had Shane Loux up and throwing. But Lincecum escaped that shaky first, regrouped and continued his second-half resurgence Sunday for the Giants, who beat the free-falling Rockies 8-3 to sweep their...

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0

Kyle Lohse pitched six spotless innings to earn his 12th win and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 on Sunday night for a three-game sweep. Daniel Descalso had a season-high three hits for the Cardinals, who have won five of six and 12 of 16. It was their first three-game sweep at home against the Brewers since March 31 to April 3, 2003. Milwaukee has lost its...

Laser pointer halts Cards-Giants game

ST. LOUIS A 17-year-old teen faces criminal charges for allegedly pointing a green laser at San Francisco pitcher Shane Loux during the seventh inning of Monday night's Cardinals-Giants game at Busch Stadium. And the fan was caught by none other than Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. The incident occurred with Matt Holliday batting for the Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh...

Giants-Cardinals Preview

The NL West-leading San Francisco Giants have slugged their way to a three-game winning streak, with Hunter Pence starting to contribute. Matt Cain wouldn't mind seeing the offensive surge continue Monday night in the opener of a four-game set with a St. Louis Cardinals club playing excellent ball at home. San Francisco (59-49), the division leader by one-half game over Los...

A Sweep? Leads Monday Ramblin's...

A sweep? Are the Cardinals contractually allowed to sweep? I thought that was going to incur some sort of fine on Mike Matheny. Or open up the skies to showers of frogs and newts… Has there ever been a more Olympic story than Oscar Pistorius? Today many people, including myself, are going to be doing a lot less complaining. About everything…That 5 game over .500 mark had a strong...

Cardinals Monday minor league pitching moves

Seven minor league pitchers are on the move across the St. Louis Cardinals system.
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.