Braves snap Cardinals’ win streak at 8
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals entered Sunday with an eight-game winning streak thanks to an offense that scored 68 runs.
Enter R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball.
Seven innings later, Dickey had subdued St. Louis, enabling the Atlanta Braves to snap their five-game losing streak with a 6-3 decision at Busch Stadium.
Dickey (8-7) scattered seven hits, not allowing a run until Carson Kelly’s one-out RBI single scored Kolten Wong in the seventh. Dickey walked two and struck out three, throwing 69 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
“They came out with a very clear approach early,” Dickey said of the Cardinals. “They were going to make me throw strikes. I was able to attack the strike zone early. The first two times through the lineup, they gave me strike one a lot with my fastball.”
St. Louis (61-57) had scored at least six runs in each of its last seven games. But Dickey allowed them to take just two at-bats in the first six innings with a man in scoring position.
In the third, with Greg Garcia at second after a single and Michael Wacha’s sacrifice bunt, Dickey induced a flyout from Matt Carpenter and a bouncer out of Tommy Pham.
“When he’s locked in, it makes for a long day,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Dickey. “He didn’t give us much.”
Meanwhile, the Braves (52-63) got to Wacha on their second pass through the order, touching him for four hits and two runs in the fourth. Danny Santana’s bases-loaded single with one out scored Freddie Freeman. Ozzie Albies made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to center that plated Nick Markakis on a close play at the plate.
Brandon Phillips doubled the lead in the fifth with one swing of his bat. On the first pitch after an Ender Inciarte single, Phillips cracked a 407-foot shot to left-center field, his 10th homer of the year and second in as many games.
Playing to continuous boos as he has done in St. Louis since a 2010 bench-clearing crawl that he and catcher Yadier Molina headlined while he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds doesn’t bother Phillips one iota.
“Well, you know you’ve got to do something for fans to remember you,” Phillips said. “Before they started booing me, I didn’t play that good here in St. Louis. Ever since that first day they started booing me, that’s when I started playing good here.
“That’s something the fans need to know, but I love it.”
Wacha (8-4) lasted just five innings, yielding eight hits and four runs with a walk and a strikeout. He attracted just four swings and misses out of 82 pitches.
The Cardinals, who fell out of a first-place tie in the National League Central with the Chicago Cubs, tried to mount a comeback after Dickey departed.
Paul DeJong cracked his 18th homer of the year in the eighth. Three straight singles followed, with Wong driving in Jose Martinez on the last one to make it 5-3.
Further pressing the issue, St. Louis filled the bases with one out. But Jose Ramirez cleaned up the mess left by Jim Johnson and Sam Freeman, slipping a called third strike by Greg Garcia and getting a bouncer to third from pinch-hitter Yadier Molina.
After Jace Peterson tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the ninth to give Atlanta insurance, Arodys Vizcaino mowed St. Louis down in order to pick up his sixth save in eight chances.
“It was a great community win,” Dickey said, “and hopefully it’s one that will turn it around a little bit.”
NOTES: St. Louis 3B Jedd Gyorko (right knee irritation) missed his second straight game and was replaced again by Greg Garcia. Gyorko could return to the lineup Tuesday night at Boston, even if it’s just in the DH role. ... Atlanta OF Matt Kemp (right hamstring) said he will be able to return from the 10-day DL on Friday night when the Braves return home. Kemp, batting .290 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs, said he won’t require a rehab stint. ... Cardinals LHP Kevin Siegrist (left forearm) started throwing off flat ground but isn’t yet ready to throw off a mound. There’s no timetable for his return.