SEATTLE — There was a moment six or seven pitches into his final at-bat of the game that Cardinals leadoff hitter Tommy Edman elevated a pitch toward the right-field foul pole and appeared to have done his game-winning homer from Wednesday one better.
The bases were loaded. The Cardinals were down by a run, and the rookie that had delivered the win Wednesday with a homer had hit a fly ball with the bases loaded. The ball drifted, drifted, drifted just foul.
His at-bat continued.
Edman fouled off another pitch, and forced the Mariners' reliever to throw a ninth pitch of the at-bat. The rookie, batting lefthanded, drilled that third pitch for a groundball single that didn't do as much damage as a grand slam or even his homer from the night before. Didn't need to.
For the second time in as many games, Edman brought home the go-ahead run that carried the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory and a series against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
Edman's single scored Dexter Fowler from third to tie the game, 4-4, and Harrison Bader sped around third to beat the throw home for the eventual winning run. Including his three-run, pinch-hit homer Wednesday, Edman delivered five of the Cardinals previous eight runs.
The other three Thursday came on a solo homer by Matt Wieters and a two-run shot by Fowler that momentarily tied the game, 3-3.
The Mariners would reclaim the lead as Mariners do with the home run. Tim Beckham leadoff shot in the bottom of the fourth inning put the M's ahead and effectively ended starter Michael Wacha's outing. A walk to the No. 8 assured it, and Wacha was gone after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks. He did not strike out a batter in his final start before the All-Star break. The Mariners threatened in every inning they had against Wacha.
A home run in the first inning pushed them to an early lead. A series of hits to open the third inning led to a two-run rally that pushed Seattle ahead again to a 3-1 lead. And then the Beckham homer.
Daniel Ponce de Leon was the first Cardinal reliever into the breach, and he retired the first four batters he faced. With the help of two double plays, Ponce de Leon got more outs (eight) than batters faced (seven). John Gant handled the seventh but had to leave the eighth after taking a hard groundball off his right calf muscle.
Andrew Miller struck out two with the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second base in the eighth inning.
Carlos Martinez pitched the ninth for the save, his third of the season.
The Cardinals head to San Francisco for a three-game weekend series before the All-Star break. Rick Hummel will have the keyboard for all the Cardinals coverage from San Francisco this weekend, and then The Post-Dispatch will have two writers at the All-Star Game to provide blanket coverage.
Mike Shildt was ejected from the game in the fourth inning when he took issue with home-plate umpire Rob Drake's gesture toward Yairo Munoz. The Cardinals infielder had attempted to call time, but it wasn't granted and he instead found himself down 0-2 in the count. Munoz asked Drake if he didn't see him call for time, and Drake responded with a wave that Shildt thought was disrespectful to the player.
Shildt argued. Drake tossed him. Munoz grounded out.
Cardinals play the hottest hand at leadoff, start Edman in finale vs. Mariners
Regardless of who starts for the Seattle Mariners in the finale of the interleague visit from the Cardinals, the visitors will have a righthanded-leaning lineup awaiting the pitcher they know will follow.
For the second time in three days, the Cardinals are going to face Seattle's "opener," and following that pitcher, a reliever, into the game will be the de facto starter. That pitcher will be lefty Tommy Milone. On Tuesday, the Mariners started a righthander, got him through the first inning, and then had lefty Wade LeBlanc handle the bulk of the middle innings. Milone is set to do the same thing, so rather than set the lineup for the pitcher who starts the game, the Cardinals have written the lineup for the pitcher they'll face during the majority of the game.
Of course, Tommy Edman made the decision possible.
Edman punctuated the groundswell to get him more playing time with a three-run homer that won Wednesday's game in the ninth inning. The Cardinals had rallied from 2-0 down in the ninth, loaded the bases, and then Edman, a pinch-hitter, unloaded for his second homer of this road trip.
With Matt Carpenter on the injured list, Shildt has suggested that the leadoff spot is there for the taking. Yairo Munoz had a two-run homer Tuesday and started at leadoff the next day. Edman homers and starts at leadoff the next day. He who stays hot, stays at leadoff.
The Cardinals are 93-94-2 on Independence Day since 1892.
This is the second time they'll face the Mariners on July Fourth. In 2004, Jeff Suppan and future Cardinal Joel Pineiro pitched against each other in 2-1 Cardinals win at Busch Stadium II. Both pitchers were starters and actually started the game.
It was a more tranquil time in baseball, those halcyon days when starters were starters, closers were closers, openers were for beer bottles, and, I don't know, wins or batting average or something ...
The Cardinals turn to Michael Wacha for his final start of the first half of the season. Adam Wainwright closed out his first half Wednesday night, though recent preparation indicates that he could be used in relief over the weekend if the games demand it. Wacha was in the rotation, out of the rotation, and has since returned to it to assert his place in it. The Cardinals do not intend to rewrite their rotation for the weekend series in San Francisco, Shildt said.
Here's the lineup that will conclude the Cardinals' Seattle visit:
1. Tommy Edman, 2B
2. Jose Martinez, DH
3. Paul DeJong, SS
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
5. Tyler O'Neill, LF
6. Dexter Fowler, RF
7. Yairo Munoz, 3B
8. Harrison Bader, CF
9. Matt Wieters, C
Check back throughout the afternoon here at C-Beat and StlToday.com for coverage from T-Mobile Park and any other news, notes, anecdotes that surface from Washington.