O’Neill’s 3-run HR in 8th lifts Cardinals over Braves 6-3

ST. LOUIS — Tyler O’Neill hit a three-run homer to break an eighth-inning tie and the Sts. Louis Cardinals cruised past the Atlanta Braves 6-3 on Sunday night.

Tommy Edman pulled the Cardinals even with a leadoff homer in the eighth against AJ Minter (5-4), who also gave up O’Neill’s two-out drive to straightaway center field. Lars Nootbaar went deep with two outs in the sixth for Braves starter Jake Odorizzi’s first hit.

O’Neill came on for the save in the seventh and delivered the decisive hit in the first – right after Minter hit sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado with two outs. St. Louis’ rally was aided by an error by third baseman Austin Riley.

“Hitting homers is always fun, but in a situation like this, I just wanted to do my job and enjoy it,” O’Neill said. “See a good pitch to hit, see it fly (out) like that, it’s all good feelings.”

O’Neill also drew a game-ending walk Saturday in a 6-5 victory for the Cardinals, who have won 12 of 15. They remain six games ahead of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

O’Neill hit just .194 in July but is slowly returning to form.

“Everybody knows what kind of talent he has, what kind of tools he has,” St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright said. “He’s just a big part of our team. It’s good to see him back again.”

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol has stuck with O’Neal throughout his struggles.

“He’s swinging with more confidence,” Marmol said. “We feel like it’s trending in the right direction.”

It was O’Neill’s third goal of the season, all since July 23.

“I’m just trying to stay in the strike zone, trust my ability there,” O’Neill said. “Not much good is going to happen out of the (strike) zone.”

Atlanta fell three games back of the first place New York Mets in the NL East.

Dansby Swanson put Atlanta ahead 3-2 on a triple off Ryan Helsley in the seventh. But the Braves couldn’t hang on and lost two of three in St. Louis. Louis after winning their previous five series.

Atlanta rookie Michael Harris II went 4 for 4.

Helsley (9-1) struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless inning for his 13th save.

Nootbaar hit a liner down the left-field line to break a scoreless tie in the sixth, and Odorizzi failed to score again. Three more hits followed and Nolan Arenado chased the right-hander with an RBI single.

Eddie Rosario and Harris singled in the seventh off Wainwright before Swanson went deep. Wainwright was charged with two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.

The 40-year-old right-hander made his 18th career start on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, the most of any active pitcher.

Odorizzi, acquired from Houston on Aug. 1 for reliever Will Smith, gave up two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings in his fifth start with the Braves.

“There’s no reason why we should hang our heads from this game,” Minter said. “It’s as close as you can get to a World Series game. It’s just going to make us that much better.”

The start of the competition was delayed 59 minutes due to rain.

best friends

Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina made their 322nd start together, second in major league history behind the Detroit battery of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan, who combined for 324 starts from 1963-75.

COACH ROOM

Brave: BY Ronald Acuna Jr. sat out the starting lineup for the second night in a row to rest his sore right knee.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty will likely make his fifth and final rehab start Wednesday at Triple-A Memphis. He has been sidelined since June 27 with a right shoulder strain.

NEXT

Braves: LHP Max Fried (12-4, 2.52 ERA) faces Colorado RHP Jose Urena (2-5, 5.98) in the first of a three-game series Tuesday in Atlanta. Fried is 1-1 with a 2.86 ERA in four career appearances against the Rockies.

Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (10-10, 3.35) faces Reds RHP Chase Anderson (0-0, 0.00) in the first game of a three-game series Monday in Cincinnati. Mikolas is 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA in 14 games against the Reds and hasn’t won in Cincinnati since April 4, 2018.

O’Neill’s 3-run HR in 8th lifts Cardinals over Braves 6-3 appeared first on NBCSports.com

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