PHOENIX — On a day where the biggest Arizona Diamondbacks headlines occurred off the field, a game on the field still had to be played at Chase Field on Friday night.
In pursuit of back-to-back NL Central titles, the St. Louis Cardinals (89-71) trimmed their magic number to two by defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 in 10 innings. The Cardinals maintained a one-game divisional lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had also won earlier that day.
Jhonny Peralta’s RBI single off Evan Marshall drove in Daniel Descalso for the eventual game-winning run. Descalso was sent to pinch run for first baseman Matt Adams, who led off the final inning with a double to right field — a ball that was misjudged by D-backs right fielder Brett Jackson. Jackson stayed in the game after he entered as a pinch runner for Cody Ross in the bottom of the 9th.
D-backs starter Trevor Cahill (3-12, 5.61) went 5.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, three walks and three strikeouts. Despite a strong beginning to his outing, Cahill was pulled on a sour note.
On his third trip through the Cardinals lineup, Cahill surrendered four hits to the first five batters in the top of the sixth inning. The final batter he faced, Peralta, smacked a double to the base of the center field wall, which drove in two runs and shifted the lead in St. Louis’ favor. Cahill had only allowed two hits through the first five innings, and escaped minor trouble during that stretch by inducing two double plays.
Will Harris replaced Cahill, and managed to allow only a sacrifice fly to Yadier Molina before escaping the inning with the Diamondbacks trailing by two
St. Louis tacked on two additional runs in the seventh off reliever Oliver Perez, extending its lead to 6-2 before the D-backs made a comeback.
Trailing 6-3 in the 8th, Arizona rallied to tie the score at 6-6 behind RBIs from Didi Gregorius and Ender Inciarte. Inciarte’s ground-rule double to left field served as a lucky break for the opposition; Gregorius was forced to return to third base instead of scoring the go-ahead run.
Cardinals reliever Pat Neshek, normally very effective out of the bullpen, surrendered all three runs in his lone inning of relief, but got A.J. Pollock to fly out to center field and keep the game tied.
St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal retired the D-backs (63-97) in order and recorded his 45th save of the season in a game that lasted three hours and 45 minutes in front of 41,963 in attendance.
The bad news deserves to go first: The Diamondbacks’ loss tonight ensured that they will finish with the worst record in baseball.
With the worst record out of 30 teams, Arizona will possess the first pick in next year’s MLB Draft.
HE SAID IT
“The game is bigger than any of us … We’re going to compete and try to do what’s right for baseball.”- Alan Trammel on getting the D-backs prepared to compete against St. Louis, which is in a tight pennant race.
Inciarte’s leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning extended his hitting streak to 14 games– the second-longest streak of his career (18). He is also the first D-backs rookie to have three games recording four or more hits in the same season.
Inciarte and Gregorius finished a combined 7-for-11 with 3 RBI.
Out of the bullpen, Harris extended his scoreless streak to 16 straight games, hurling 15.2 shutout innings in that span.
Southpaw Wade Miley (8-12, 4.35) will make his final start of the season on Saturday, opposing the righty Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.73).
Miley will be happy not having to pitch in Coors Field, where he struggled (as most pitchers do) in his previous start, lasting only 4.1 innings and allowing six earned runs in a loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Lynn will try to keep St. Louis atop the NL Central and ahead of the streaking Pirates.
First pitch is scheduled at 5:10 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.