PHOENIX (AP) — Nolan Arenado quickly fell behind a hard hitting pitcher who could draw the corners.
Instead of straining, the seven-time All-Star bided his time, found a pitch he could hit, and blasted the ball through the right side of the infield.
Arenado hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning and finished with three RBIs, helping the St. Louis Cardinals extend their hitting streak to seven games with a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
“He knows when to take hits and when to just take whatever they give him,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It’s a great example of taking what he gave.”
Trailing 4-3, the Cardinals loaded the bases in the seventh after pinch-hitting Albert Pujols singled in Joe Montipli (1-4) and Kevin Ginkel hit Paul Goldschmidt with a pitch. Arenado, who scored the only run in the first inning, fell behind Ginkel 1-2 but lined a single to right-center to put St. Louis up 5-4.
Jake Woodford (2-0) allowed a hit in 1 1/3 innings and Giovanni Gallegos pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save, ending the Central League-leading Cardinals’ seventh shutout of the season.
Lars Nuthbaar hit his first career homer and Tommy Edman added a leadoff single in the eighth inning for St. Louis’ 16th win in 19 games.
“Guys just keep competing, no matter the situation, no matter the score, and that’s what you want this time of year,” Marmol said.
Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly has been outstanding for nearly two months, allowing two runs or fewer in eight of nine starts.
The veteran right-hander struggled almost from the opener against St. Louis, giving up a leadoff homer by Nutbaar and Arenado’s lone hit. Another run followed when Nolan Gorman grounded into a double play, matching what Kelly had allowed in his previous two starts combined.
“Kelly did a good job,” Marmol said. “Their starter was good, and for us to come out the way we did, put together an at-bat with a homer and then singles. It was a really good first innings.”
Kelly got a boost from a double play in the second inning and got into a rhythm after that. He walked two baserunners twice, allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in six innings.
THE MARMOL HAS TURNED OFF
Marmol was ejected in the third inning after saying something to umpire CB Buckner about the strike being called.
With one out in the inning, Buckner called a strike to Arenado’s pitch, which appeared to be inside. Buckner did not feel free to throw Marmolripping off his mask to take him out of the game.
Marmol came out of the dugout and got in Buckner’s face while screaming before being pushed away by third base umpire Jeff Nelson.
“There were a couple of calls with (starter Jose) Quintana that turned the at-bats that didn’t go our way and then one on Nolan,” Marmol said. “Clear ball, so went out there and was ejected.”
Quintana has been excellent since the Aug. 1 trade from Pittsburgh, allowing three earned runs in 17 innings over three starts.
The lefty hit his first clunker against Arizona.
Struggling with his team, allowed four runs – two earned – on seven hits and walked three in 2 2/3 innings.
“It was a tough day for me,” Quintana said. “The problem was attacking the zone and getting ahead in numbers. That’s usually my plan and I ran into a little bit of a problem, got into some traffic.”
Arizona recalled RHP Luis Frias from Triple-A Reno and optioned RHP Edwin Useta to the Aces.
Frias went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in four games with Arizona earlier this season, Uceta had a 5.82 ERA in 20 games with the Diamondbacks.
Cardinals: Andrew Knizner was in pain after being hit on the glove hand by Stone Garrett in a catcher’s interference call. The Cardinals coach looked at Knizner for several minutes, but he stayed in the game. … RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder strain) made his third rehab start with Double-A Springfield on Sunday and could make one more before rejoining the Cardinals.
Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (6-3, 3.29 ERA) is 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA since being traded to the Yankees heading into Monday’s opener against the Cubs.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zach Davis (2-4, 3.99) looks for his first win since May 13 when Arizona opens a two-game series at Kansas City on Tuesday.
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