Earlier in the road trip St. Louis manager Mike Shildt changed a bit of his messaging. While quality at-bats were important, the Cardinals were missing out on too many chances at big innings and needed more of an offensive punch.
It took a while, but the punch arrived on Wednesday night thanks to Tommy Edman.
The rookie capped St. Louis’ big ninth inning with a two-out, three-run home run as the Cardinals rallied for five runs to beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2.
St. Louis entered the ninth trailing 2-0 after a masterful performance from Seattle starter Mike Leake, who threw 7 2/3 shutout innings against his former team for the first time. But Seattle’s bullpen imploded and the Cardinals took full advantage of the meltdown.
Most of all, Edman.
“I feel like damage is never something I really intend to do,” Edman said. “I’m never trying to swing for home runs or anything like that. I think it’s just a product of my approach at the plate.”
Edman struck out in the ninth inning against Roenis Elias with the tying run in scoring position in the opener of the series on Tuesday night. A day later, Edman learned from his mistakes and provided the final blow to an unlikely ninth inning.
Austin Adams (1-1) got the final out of the eighth in relief of Leake but struggled in the ninth allowing two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Elias took over and was greeted by an RBI single from Dexter Fowler to cut the deficit to 2-1. Yadier Molina followed with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Paul Goldschmidt with the tying run, beating Dylan Moore’s throw to the plate.
Adams felt Seattle should have had a second out on a potential strike three pitch to Tyler O’Neill. O’Neill eventually walked.
“I thought the pitch was close, but those guys are humans too and if he thought it was a ball, it was a ball. I still have to execute pitches,” Adams said.
Edman came up as a pinch-hitter for Kolten Wong, and hit a 2-2 pitch out to left field for his third home run and first from the right side of the plate. It was the fourth two-strike hit of the ninth for the Cardinals.
“A lot of tough at-bats, not trying to do too much. … I liked our approach. We took our shot,” Shildt said.
John Brebbia (2-3) pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief and struck out six. Andrew Miller struck out the first two batters of the ninth and Carlos Martinez got the final out.
The late rally ruined Leake’s chance at a win in his first start against the Cardinals since being traded to Seattle during the 2017 season. Leake struck out seven and retired 11 straight at one point. It was the kind of outing that could raise interest from contenders looking to add an arm to their pitching rotation ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
Leake had allowed 11 earned runs in his previous two starts, but the outing was more what he showed in late May and early June where Leake had four consecutive starts of at least seven innings and three earned runs or less.
“They were very aggressive against him early in counts and he was able to get deep into the ballgame. Outstanding effort by him,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright kept the Mariners in check but a high pitch count ended his night early. Wainwright was lifted after 101 pitched following Domingo Santana’s single leading off the sixth inning. Santana later scored on a wild pitch. Moore’s hit a solo homer off Wainwright in the fifth inning.
Seattle’s Daniel Vogelbach was hopeful of ending up in the Home Run Derby at next week’s All-Star Game in Cleveland but the final two spots in the event went to Alex Bregman and Joc Pederson. Vogelbach is Seattle’s only All-Star representative and has 20 home runs.
St. Louis activated RHP reliever Ryan Helsley off the 10-day injured list and optioned the rookie to Triple-A Memphis. Helsley had been with Memphis on an injury rehab assignment. He went on the injured list June 13 and has appeared in seven games with the Cardinals this season.
Seattle RHP Hunter Strickland is throwing off the mound as he continues to recover from a lat injury that has kept him out most of the season. Strickland was expected to throw off the mound on Wednesday and again this weekend.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (5-4) allowed two runs in seven innings but took the loss in his last start against San Diego.
Mariners: Seattle will use an opener to be followed by LHP Tommy Milone (1-2). It will be the fifth time Seattle has used an opener in front of Milone and has a 1.99 ERA in those games.
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