Clemson’s Spencer Strider shines in Braves’ loss to Cardinals
ATLANTA (AP) — Dylan Carlson hit a tiebreaking single in the top of the 11th inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Thursday night to snap their four-game losing streak.
Nolan Gorman singled to begin the 11th and move automatic runner Nolan Arenado to third. Carlson’s single glanced off the glove of second baseman Phil Gosselin, and the Cardinals led 3-2.
“It’s super meaningful,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “We’ve gotten beaten the last couple of days here. They played good baseball. Today was good baseball on both sides. Today was a good one.”
Spencer Strider dominated with a career-high 12 strikeouts in six innings for the defending World Series champion Braves, who began the game a major league-best 26-7 since June 1 but fell 3½ games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.
Juan Yepez’s sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th broke a 1-all tie for St. Louis. Matt Olson’s RBI single tied it at 2 in the bottom half.
Michael Harris II hit a tying homer off Giovanny Gallegos in the seventh for Atlanta. Albert Pujols delivered a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the top of the inning for St. Louis, giving him 121 sacrifice flies to tie Hank Aaron and Frank Thomas for fourth place on the career list.
Strider mixed a fastball that regularly touched 99 mph and a high 80s slider that was equally effective, recording a strikeout for each of the first nine outs, the first time that’s happened since the Braves debuted in Atlanta in 1966.
“It’s cool,” he said. “A lot of good pitchers have pitched for Atlanta. That’s neat. I wish we would’ve pulled out the win as well, but it’s cool.”
Strider, a fourth-round draft pick out of Clemson in 2020, has struck out 102 in 65 2/3 innings this year. He allowed two hits, no runs and two walks.
Only two other pitchers have recorded strikeouts in their first nine outs since the start of 2020: Miami’s Pablo López on July 11, 2021, and Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola on June 25, 2021.
Ryan Helsley (5-1) earned the win in 2 1/3 innings. Packy Naughton earned his first save, and Tyler Matzek (0-2) took the loss.
St. Louis struck out 19 times. The Cardinals, second in the NL Central, had dropped six of seven. Prior to Thursday, the Braves had never struck out more than 18 hitters in a game that lasted 11 or fewer innings.
Arenado popped up to begin the fourth, the first out that was put in play by the Cardinals. Strider struck out three more the rest of the way.
Strider, who struck out 11 in a win last Saturday at Cincinnati and has three double-digit strikeout games in eight career starts, gave up a bloop double to Paul Goldschmidt and a walk to Arenado in the first but struck out Gorman to end the threat. He struck out the side and faced the minimum in the second.
“It’s a game of inches, and the inches got us pretty much,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Carlson went 3 for 3 after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He also turned a double play in the ninth when Carlson caught Harris’ liner in center field and doubled up pinch-runner Gosselin, who had advanced from first past second and was easily forced out.
“In that situation, you’re definitely trying to be aggressive and catch anything over your head,” Carlson said. “When the guy on first can run pretty well … you’ve got to be aggressive and go make a play. Off the bat, that was the initial thought.”
Pujols needs one extra base hit to reach 1,377 and tie Stan Musial for third place on the career list.
“Now, to be able to mention my name in the sentence along with those guys is like, ‘What?’ It’s almost like a dream,” Pujols said. “It’s really reality. I’m just thankful and grateful.”
Pujols, who plans to retire after the season, walked onto the field 10 minutes before the first pitch to receive a $1,000 check to his family foundation from the Braves’ foundation. He received a standing ovation before the game and then loud applause when he was introduced as a pinch-hitter.
Cardinals: C Austin Romine stayed in the game despite getting hit on the helmet by Marcell Ozuna’s back swing in the 10th. … LF Tyler O’Neill (left hamstring strain) took the night off with Triple-A Memphis and could be activated Friday. … Marmol said he expects LHP Genesis Cabrera (illness) to rejoin the active roster on Friday. … CF Harrison Bader (right plantar fasciitis) is swinging and playing catch before returning to wearing his protective boot the rest of the day. He could return during the upcoming 10-day homestand.
Braves: Snitker said LHP Max Fried, who left Wednesday’s win after 82 pitches with tightness in his right glute muscle, is fine and will make his next scheduled start.
CARDS BY THE NUMBERS
The last time the Cardinals’ first nine outs in a game were via strikeout came March 31, 2019, against Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes. … The last pitcher to record 12 or more Ks against St. Louis was Max Scherzer of the Los Angeles Dodgers with 13 on Sept. 6, 2021. … RHP Jordan Hicks threw 27 of his 34 pitches over 100 mph, two shy of his single-game record. … Gallegos had his fifth blown save of the season, tied for the NL lead.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (6-6, 3.26 ERA) will face RHP Zack Wheeler as St. Louis hosts Philadelphia to begin a four-game series. Wainwright is 7-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 16 career starts and two relief appearances against the Phillies.
Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (4-3, 4.34 ERA) will face RHP Erick Fedde (5-5, 4.29) as Atlanta hosts Washington to begin a three-game series. Morton is 4-6 with a 5.23 ERA in 13 career starts against Washington.