Masterson's arm, bat push Cardinals past Marlins
MIAMI -- Right-hander Justin Masterson, who is in his seventh year in the big leagues, collected his first career RBI on Wednesday night.
He also got something else he treasures even more -- the win.
Masterson pitched seven scoreless innings and added a run-scoring single to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-2 victory over the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park.
"I hit back in college (at San Diego State) -- that was the last time I cared," said Masterson, who spent his entire career in the American League until the Cleveland Indians traded him to the Cardinals late last month. "But it's worked out well right now."
The Cardinals (63-56), who lost four of their previous five games, salvaged the finale of the three-game series.
Miami (59-61) had its two-game win streak snapped and failed in its attempt to reach .500 for the first time this month. The Marlins were trying to complete a three-game sweep of the Cardinals for the first time since 1996.
"We absolutely wanted to be greedy and go for the sweep," Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee said, "but Masterson threw the ball well."
St. Louis is a half-game behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the race for the first National League wild card. The San Francisco Giants are a half-game back of the Cardinals. The Marlins are 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis.
In his previous two Cardinals performances, Masterson (2-1) allowed 10 runs in eight innings. He was much better Wednesday, however, allowing just three hits -- all singles -- and no walks. He struck out three.
"This was a great sign of the pitcher he can be when he puts it all together," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I think with sinkerballers like Justin, they find their slot and they find that velocity they need to live at. But he also reared back with his four-seamer and hit 93 (mph) when he needed a strikeout."
The loss went to Nathan Eovaldi (6-7), who pitched six innings and allowed four runs. Two of the runs were unearned due to a pair of errors by second baseman Jordany Valdespin.
"We didn't help ourselves defensively," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said, "and they took advantage."
St. Louis opened the scoring in the third inning, loading the bases with two outs on singles by center fielder Jon Jay and third baseman Matt Carpenter and a walk to left fielder Matt Holliday. First baseman Matt Adams then stroked a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a two-run single.
Adams' big hit came one day after he was kept out of the starting lineup due to a slump. He was hitting just .212 since the All-Star break and was finally rested after starting 29 consecutive games.
"Somebody yelled, 'Hey, we got the lead!'" Matheny said in a self-deprecating fashion, considering the Cardinals' struggles earlier in this series.
St. Louis made it 3-0 in the fifth inning. Carpenter singled, advanced to second on second baseman Kolten Wong's hit and scored on a throwing error by Valdespin, who was trying to turn a double play.
"When we got up a couple runs," Masterson said, "it was like, 'All right, now we can challenge guys.'"
The Cards made it 4-0 in the sixth, scoring a run that was set up by Valdespin's second error. That allowed right fielder Oscar Taveras to reach, and he advanced to third on a double by Jay. Taveras scored on Masterson's single, just the fifth hit of the pitcher's career.
The Cards made it 5-0 when pinch hitter Daniel Descalso drew a bases-loaded, four-pitch walk with two outs in the eighth off of reliever Sam Dyson.
Marlins pinch hitter Jeff Baker spoiled the shutout bid, hitting a two-run homer with one out in the ninth against Cardinals reliever Kevin Siegrist. Closer Trevor Rosenthal came on to get the final out in a non-save situation.
NOTES: Cards LF Matt Holliday's left knee "tightened up" during the game, and he was removed from the lineup. ... Entering Wednesday, the Marlins (188) and Cardinals (186) were the top two teams in the National League in two-out RBIs. ... The Marlins' nine-game homestand continues Thursday with the first of four against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Miami set its rotation for the first three games: RHP Brad Penny, LHP Brad Hand and RHP Henderson Alvarez, who will come off the disabled list. Sunday's starting pitcher had not yet been announced. ... The Cardinals will return home Thursday for the start of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres. St. Louis will start RHPs John Lackey, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright.