MIAMI -- Having tripled, doubled and singled in his first three at-bats, Kolten Wong knew exactly what he needed to do next. After his St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Miami Marlins 11-6 on Friday night at Marlins Park, Wong left little doubt he was hunting for the homer he needed to complete what would have been his first cycle at any level of baseball. "One hundred percent," Wong said when asked if he were swinging for the fences. "As bad as that sounds -- there are not too many times when you have the chance to hit for the cycle. After I got that triple, double and single, I figured, 'Why not?' "That would be something pretty cool that I could take away from this year." Unfortunately for Wong, he flied out to medium right in the sixth inning and grounded out to first in the eighth. Still, that didn't put much of a damper on the mood of the Cardinals (56-47), who beat the Marlins (55-48) for the second straight day. As it stands now, the two teams are competing for the second and final NL wild-card playoff spot, and the Cardinals lead Miami by one game. The Cardinals offense was relentless on Friday, getting 14 hits, including a pair of two-run homers by Tommy Pham, who finished with three RBIs, and Jeremy Hazelbaker. No surprise there -- the Cardinals lead the NL in home runs. But both home runs were significant in a different way. Marlins starter Jose Urena threw a pitch near Hazelbaker's head in a Triple-A game on June 27. Hazelbaker charged the mound, and both players were ejected. On Friday, Hazelbaker pulled a 2-1 changeup down the line in right field for his eighth homer of the season, gaining sweet revenge on Urena. "Yeah, there is," Hazelbaker said when asked if he got extra satisfaction because the homer came off Urena. "That's the thing about baseball -- usually, you have a chance to get back at somebody you have history against. It's not the first time it's happened in baseball. "It was a satisfying time. I'm glad it happened." After giving up the homer, Urena hit two of the next four batters with pitches, including Pham, who got plunked on the right wrist. Pham, though, showed no ill effects, homering to center in the sixth off reliever Nick Wittgren. That blast was calculated at 420 feet. Little went right for the Marlins, including the pursuit of 3,000 hits by Ichiro Suzuki, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He needs two more hits to become the 30th player to reach the milestone. Suzuki had his lone highlight in the fourth inning, when he caught a fly ball in medium left field, hugging the foul line, and threw home on a short hop, nailing Wong at the plate for an inning-ending double play. Suzuki's throw was clocked at 91.6 mph. "He's so technically sound," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Suzuki. "It's so much fun to watch." St. Louis right-hander Mike Leake (8-8) earned the win, allowing six runs in five innings. The game was played just hours after the Marlins made a seven-player trade with the San Diego Padres. Miami announced that both of their new major league pitchers will start for them this weekend -- Colin Rea (5-5, 4.98 ERA) on Saturday and Andrew Cashner (4-7, 4.76 ERA) on Sunday. Miami now has six starting pitchers, but Urena (1-3) -- who gave up eight hits, four walks and eight runs in 4 1/3 innings on Friday -- could be headed back to Triple-A New Orleans. He has a 6.69 ERA. The Marlins, after trailing 9-1, came back with five runs in the bottom of the fifth. All five RBIs came with two outs -- doubles by Miguel Rojas and Chris Johnson and a three-run homer to left by Martin Prado. It was Prado's fifth homer of the season and his second in two games. That cut the Cardinals lead to 9-6, but that was as close as Miami got the rest of the night. "For a moment after I hit it, you felt the energy in the stadium," Prado said of his home run. "I know we lost today, but we're showing signs we will be tough for 27 outs." NOTES: In addition to Cashner and Rea, Miami also acquired minor league RHP Tayron Guerrero, 25. San Diego acquired RHPs Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps and two minor-leaguers, 1B Josh Naylor, 19, and RHP Luis Castillo, 23. ... Perhaps Miami's biggest losses were Naylor, who has power and is the highest-rated hitter in their organization, and Castillo, who has a 100-mph fastball. Capps also throws 100 mph but is out for the year due to elbow surgery, and Cosart has been inconsistent and injury prone. ... Cardinals SS Aledmys Diaz and Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez have known each other since childhood in Cuba, but Thursday was the first time they were rivals in a game. Diaz, with a homer, double and three RBIs, won the battle. Diaz, who turns 26 on Monday, has had a breakout rookie year with 14 homers and a .901 OPS entering Friday.
Cardinals pound Marlins; Suzuki stays at 2,998
The Sports Xchange | Jul 29