Martinez bats, pitches Cards to 7-2 win

2014-07-03T19:15:00Z 2014-07-06T07:56:29Z Martinez bats, pitches Cards to 7-2 winBy Rick Hummel 314-340-8196

SAN FRANCISCO • Michael Wacha is down, if not out. Jaime Garcia is down, if not out. Joe Kelly has been down for more than two months.

The Cardinals' rotation, imposing at the top with Adam Wainwright and reasonably solid in the next spot with Lance Lynn has been search of ballast.  

They may be finding it in Carlos Martinez, who pitched well enough this spring to be in the rotation in the first place but has seized the moment when the aforementioned threw their respective shoes.

After being lifted from the bullpen, Martinez has made four starts. The Cardinals have won all four, even though, still rebuilding stamina, Martinez (2-3) hasn't lasted more than five innings in any of them.

But he also hasn't given up more than one run in three of the four, including Thursday's trip-wrapping 7-2 win over San Francisco. The victory brought the Cardinals dead even at 5-5 on their 10-game voyage which saw them throw two shutouts but be blanked three times themselves, including a 26-inning scoreless streak.

"The guys put together a good offensive day although we did leave some money on the table," said manager Mike Matheny, referring to the Cardinals' horrid three for 17 record with men in scoring position, leaving many of those runners at third.

Martinez, reaching a season-high 88 pitches, fanned six and drove in the first two runs of his career with a single past a drawn-in infield in the fourth to cap a three-run inning, helped by the Giants throwing away a double play ball, one of two such misfeasances they committed on the day. He also survived a full-out unsuccessful dive as he tried to make a play on a bunt in the fifth inning.

Matheny said Thursday's start was the best of Martinez's brief career as a starter. "He was primed to go deeper in the game but. . . especially after that play at first base, we had to be careful," said Matheny.

"He had consistent, fluid delivery. It looked like his arm was timed up with his body. It looked more like pitching today than raring back and seeing how nasty he could be."

Martinez had hit the ground hard trying to field a bunt attempt by Gregor Blanco in the fifth. He made the play but couldn't extract the ball from his glove and lay on the ground for several seconds before arising.

Martinez stayed in the game to finish the inning, striking out Buster Posey with the bases loaded. He initially had felt something in his right side, said Martinez, but Matheny said the 22-year-old checked out well with the medical staff.

"I think he knocked the wind out of himself and he didn't know exactly how to say that," said Matheny.

Jhonny Peralta hit his 12th homer and only the 49th for the Cardinals this season to start the Cardinals off in the first against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (9-6).

Matt Carpenter had two doubles and made a key defensive play at third base when the Giants were still in the game. He is hitting .520 (13 for 25) against the Giants this season and .519 (28 for 54) against them in his career. 

Seth Maness and Jason Motte combined for three perfect innings of relief, with Motte fanning two. 

Martinez caps three-run fourth 

Carlos Martinez, hitting .375 (three for eight) now that he is a starting pitcher, collected the first two runs batted in of his career in the fourth inning today after a San Francisco Giants' error on a potential double play opened the door for the Cardinals and paved the way to their taking a big lead. 

Yadier Molina singled to left center. After Oscar Taveras was called out on strikes, Mark Ellis bounced to first baseman Adam Duvall, who threw the ball into left field. With two runners on, Jon Jay, five for 11 in his career against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, doubled to left to score Molina and move Ellis to third.

With the infield drawn in, Martinez slashed a grounder past shortstop Brandon Crawford and the Cardinals had hiked their edge to 5-1. 

Martinez survives dive, lost challenge  

But Martinez, who had sailed through the early innings, gave manager Mike Matheny a fright when he tried to make a diving play on Gregor Blanco's push bunt in the fifth. Martinez, laying out, gloved the ball as he hit the ground hard, but he couldn't get the ball of out of it to flip to first.

For a few seconds, Martinez didn't move before he finally popped to his feet and maneuvered his neck and back while Matheny and head athletic trainer Greg Hauck observed his recovery.  

Martinez would stay in the game to finish the inning and the Cardinals lost another challenge as Hunter Pence was ruled to have beaten out an infield hit with two outs. The Giants suddenly brought the tying run to the plate in Buster Posey after Martinez walked rookie Joe Panik to fill the bases. 

 But Martinez fanned Posey on a sharp breaking ball, which created some controversy. Home-plate umpire Ron Kulpa ruled that the ball had been tipped and that catcher Molina had caught the ball in the air although it appeared that dirt had been kicked up in the process.  

The play is not on the list of reviewable plays, so the outcome stood despite complaints by Posey and Giants manager Bruce Bochy. His sixth strikeout was the last of Martinez's 88 pitches as he was pinch hit for in the sixth. 

That pinch hitter, Shane Robinson, snapped a 15 at-bat hitless streak with a run-scoring triple although an error by right fielder Taveras gave that run back in the home sixth and it was 6-2.

But the Giants threw away another double play as Yusmeiro Petit chucked the ball into center field after fielding Taveras' one-hopper in the seventh and Matt Adams, who had doubled, came home to restore the Cardinals' five-run lead at 7-2. 

Peralta pops 12th HR

Tied for last with Kansas City at 48 for fewest home runs in the majors, the Cardinals stunned Giants ace Madison Bumgarner today when Jhonny Peralta  launched a two-run drive to left center in the first.

It was the 12th homer for Peralta, who had been nothing for six against Bumgarner. Matt Carpenter had led off with a walk before Matt Holliday flied out and Matt Adams fanned, after, strangely, trying to bunt a 3-1 pitch. He bunted it foul.

The first-inning runs were the first for the Cardinals since June 18 when Carpenter homered off New York's Bartolo Colon.

Some hesitant baserunning by Carpenter may have cost his team a run in the third, though. After Carpenter stroked his 20th double, Holliday grounded hard to second baseman Joe Panik.   

Carpenter started toward third base and then stopped as Panik bluffed as if he might throw there. Carpenter ultimately stayed at second and thus made only third base on Matt Adams' grounder to first, which could have scored Carpenter, who was stranded as Peralta popped up.

But Carpenter made amends in the Giants' third after San Francisco had scored once on a double by Gregor Blanco, who had a big series against the Cardinals in St. Louis, and a single by Bumgarner off starter Carlos Martinez.  

After Hunter Pence struck out, Panik grounded to first baseman Adams, who stepped on the bag for one out and lobbed a throw to second to try to get Bumgarner, who hadn't even started to slide yet. But the ball bounced off the back of Bumgarner's helmet and the Giants had a man at second and two out.

Buster Posey sent a hard grounder toward left field but Carpenter sprawled to his left to make the stop and throw out Posey to keep the Cardinals' lead at 2-1. 

Kelly will need two more starts

Righthander Joe Kelly, out since April 16 with a left hamstring tear, probably won't be pitching for the Cardinals until after the All-Star break.

Manager Mike Matheny said Kelly is being programmed for two more starts on the medical rehabilitation program, likely meaning one more this Sunday and another next weekend before the All-Star break.

Kelly reached only 49 pitches though he worked four scoreless innings for Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday.

This means that somebody else, whether it's rookie Marco Gonzales or another pitcher to be named, will be starting the opener of a critical three-game series in Milwaukee on July 11.

Matheny said that he hoped Kelly could be built up to 70 or 80 pitches for his next start for Memphis and then even more for a fourth start. Pitchers are allowed to be on a rehabilitation assignment for 30 days.

Craig takes a seat 

A day after grounding to third base in three of his four at-bats, Cardinals outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig is the veteran on the bench today as rookie Oscar Taveras gets a third straight start in the finale of a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants.

Lefthander Madison Bumgarner, who blanked the Cardinals on three hits for seven innings in St. Louis on May 30, will be the Giants' starter. Craig, though a righthanded hitter, is just three for 16 against him while lefthanded-hitting Jon Jay, who will be in center field, is four for nine.

Carlos Martinez will get the start for the Cardinals as they try to even their Western trip record at 5-5. It has been an up-and-down journey in which the Cardinals have pitched two shutouts and been blanked three times. 

Cardinals lineup: 

1. Carpenter 3b

2. Holliday lf

3. Adams 1b

4. Peralta ss

5. Molina c

6. Taveras rf

7. Ellis 2b 

8. Jay cf

9. Martinez p

San Francisco lineup 

1. Pence rf

2. Panik 2b

3. Posey c

4. Sandoval 3b

5. Colvin lf

6. Duvall 1b

7. Crawford ss

8. Blanco cf

9. Bumgarner p

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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