CHICAGO -- Behind an early onslaught of offense from the Cardinals that was punctuated by Matt Holliday's grand slam, St. Louis nabbed an 8-5 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday to open a two-game stop at U.S. Cellular Field.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha allowed Chicago back into the game, however, as he also allowed a season-high in runs and lasted only five innings. Homers by rookie Tyler Saladino and Geovany Soto accounted for three of the five runs scored off Wacha. Nevertheless, Wacha became the third National League pitcher to 11 wins this season.
"I felt really good for the first three and just left some balls up in the zone," said Wacha, who was pitching on 12 days' rest. "I lost control of fastball command. They didn't miss the mistakes in those last couple innings I was out there. I definitely have some stuff to work on for the next start."
The win improved the Cardinals to 9-9 in Interleague play this season and marked their third victory in four games since the All-Star break. The White Sox, despite scoring more than two runs for just the third time in nine games, lost their third straight.
"Any time you get in a little bit of a rut it's disappointing," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "It's frustrating when it starts going the other way, but these guys continue to play hard and grind. You've got to be able to turn it back around."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Clear the deck: In his third start since returning from a quad strain, Holliday blasted a hanging slider from Rodon 430 feet for his sixth career grand slam. The homer, Holliday's fourth of the season, put the Cardinals ahead, 7-0, in the fourth. It was Holliday's first grand slam since June 9, 2013, against the Reds. More >
"In that situation, you want to be aggressive," Holliday said. "He has a chance to strike you out if you don't get something early in the count. You're trying to be aggressive early, trying to get something to hit hard, preferably in the air."
One wasn't enough: Trailing by six runs, the White Sox climbed back into the game with two home runs in the fifth inning. Catcher Soto cleared the fences first with his solo blast to right-center field, his sixth of the season and second since July 17. Saladino hit a two-run shot to left field, his second of his career since being called up July 10.
One down, many to go: Stephen Piscotty needed only two at-bats to record his first hit in his Major League debut. After striking out with the bases loaded in the second, the left fielder drilled a sharp grounder to third base that Saladino couldn't handle in the fourth. The official scorer ruled it a hit for Piscotty, and the ball was taken out of play so it could be retained as a keepsake by the Cardinals' top prospect. More >
"When I was able to get the hit and lay off a couple of pitches low and was really able to see it and attack and be in a good hitter's count, after that, I was able to see the ball a lot better," Piscotty said.
Stranded in the seventh The White Sox had their chance to make up more of an early deficit in the seventh inning, but they left two runners on base with one out. Adam Eaton and Saladino reached second and third, but Jose Abreu grounded out and Melky Cabrera struck out. Chicago finished Tuesday 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven runners on base.
"We need to get some guys on and knock them in, too," Ventura said. "We did enough to get going, but we didn't have enough to get over the top."
"I'm not going to sleep well because of that. It's over and done with so you have to move on from it, but at the same time, that home run means nothing to me because we didn't win. I didn't make the play and if I come up with it you don't know how that outcome will be." --Saladino on allowing Piscotty's hit in the fourth inning
"It really looked to [pitching coach] Derek [Lilliquist] and I that he was jumpy with his legs. That's something that happens when you get more rest than usual and your legs feel so strong. When you're used to that every fifth day or that sixth [day] and you get that extra rest, you feel strong and your timing gets messed up." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on Wacha falling out of sync
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With long balls from Holliday and Mark Reynolds on Tuesday, the Cardinals have now homered in seven consecutive games. It's their longest such streak since the club had 10 straight games with a home run from July 29-Aug. 7, 2011.
White Sox third baseman Saladino continues his hot start to his rookie campaign, finishing 3-for-5 with a home run and another run scored. Since he was called up on July 10, Saladino has hit safely in seven of eight games, including a home run in his last game on Sunday. In 26 at-bats, he's hitting 11-for-27, the best mark on his team in that span.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals erased what would have been the White Sox's first baserunner by successfully challenging a play in the second inning. The Cardinals asked for the review after Avisail Garcia was ruled safe on an infield single. A 2-minute replay overturned the call.
For the third time in three games, the White Sox challenged a call at first base involving Saladino. Ventura challenged the original call that he was out on the throw from Jhonny Peralta with two outs in the ninth inning. Umpires overturned the call.
"We're playing with some of the best baseball players in the world so it's definitely not easy," Saladino said. "I'm just trying to keep things as easy as possible and compete."
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals:Lance Lynn will make his second start of the second half when he faces the White Sox in Wednesday's series finale at U.S. Cellular Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm CT. Lynn allowed one run in a six-inning no-decision against Chicago on June 30.
White Sox: The White Sox send John Danks to the hill, who looks to build off his hot start to the second half for Wednesday's series finale against the Cardinals. Danks threw six scoreless innings while allowing four hits against the Royals last time out for his eighth quality start of the season.