ST. LOUIS -- Meeting for the first time since last October in what could be a prelude to another postseason series showdown, the Cardinals halted the Giants' four-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory on Monday night.
The Giants' bullpen retired eight in a row before Stephen Piscotty sparked the Cardinals' go-ahead rally with a one-out triple in the eighth. Reliever Hunter Strickland nearly got out of the mess, but a wild throw by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford as he tried to complete the inning-ending double play on Mark Reynolds' grounder set the Cards up for their 15th final at-bat win of the year.
Neither starter received a decision. Giants right-hander Chris Heston allowed four hits and walked five over 4 2/3 innings, but he limited the Cardinals to a Yadier Molina home run. The Cards stranded nine runners against Heston.
"Give him credit, he kept them there despite not being real sharp with his command, when he left the game it was 1-0," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Heston. "Wasn't quite as sharp, but he competed well."
Facing the Giants for the first time since he served up a walk-off homer to Travis Ishikawa that sent San Francisco onto the World Series, Cards starter Michael Wacha allowed one run over seven innings. Wacha held a one-run lead until Crawford's two-out, RBI double in the sixth. That kept Wacha from becoming the National League's first 15-game winner.
"I felt good," Wacha said. "I was giving up some singles, felt like I was hitting my spots pretty well. I made a mistake in that sixth inning, probably shouldn't have thrown a strike there. Crawford put a good swing on it and drove a double. I felt like I had good command of the curveball, fastball as well. I was real happy with everything."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rookie assist: Piscotty contributed another multi-hit game, with his eighth-inning triple the biggest hit of the night. The rookie outfielder is now 10-for-27 on the homestand and has hit safely in 19 of the 24 games in which he's registered an at-bat. Eleven of his first 29 Major League hits have been for extra bases.
"I'm just trying to react up here," said Piscotty, when asked if he's pushing to show a power stroke. "Whatever swing you have that day is what I'm going to compete with. If that comes, great. But I'm not making a conscious effort to do that."
Missed opportunities: After scoring 25 runs in their last three games, the Giants only scored once. In the third, they had runners at the corners with one out, but Gregor Blanco popped out bunting and Matt Duffy grounded out. The Giants had two on and none out in the sixth, but a double play preceded Crawford's RBI double. More >
"I'm sure Gregor would like to take that bunt back," Bochy said. "We're in a pretty good situation there and Heston did a great job on that hit and run, and he just popped it up."
Yadi's bomb: With his first home run since June 19 and just his third this season, Molina gave the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. According to Statcast™, Molina's blast landed an estimated 403 feet away and into the Big Mac Land area of Busch Stadium. The home run puts Molina one shy of No. 100.
"That's the best ball a lot of people have hit in their life," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Molina's blast. "That ball is way gone, and that's a pretty tough pitch [to hit]. It's just nice to see the strength, the bat speed, all of it coming together for him."
Limiting the damage: Pitching with less than his best stuff, Heston stranded at least one runner in each inning he pitched. Heston gave up four hits and walked five. He walked the bases loaded in the fourth, but he was able to strike out Kolten Wong to keep the game scoreless at the time.
"I had to bear down you know," Heston said. "That was a big turning point in the game, I felt, and I needed to make some pitches there. Luckily, I was able to throw a few good breaking balls and get out of that one."
"As soon as it came off the bat, [pitching coach Derek Lilliquist] said, 'That's not enough.' I just trusted him. It was pure optimism, and we willed it not to go out because that ball was hit hard." -- Matheny, on Buster Posey's fly ball that Peter Bourjos caught up against the outfield wall to seal the win
"I thought it was out, I'll be honest. He gets such good carry on the ball and he hit it in the biggest part of the park there, but I thought it was gone. I don't know who didn't think it was gone to be honest, he hit it pretty good." -- Bochy, on Posey's hard-hit out
The Cardinals placed outfielder Randal Grichuk on the disabled list with a right elbow strain prior to the game and then watched as Jason Heyward, who had moved to fill the center field void in Grichuk's absence, left the game after two innings. Heyward's early exit was due to left hamstring tightness, the team announced. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (8-8, 4.15 ERA) will start in place of Mike Leake (9-6, 3.52), who was scheduled to make his return from the DL on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. PT for the middle game of this road series. Vogelsong is 2-6 with a 6.17 ERA in his career vs. St. Louis.
Cardinals: Right-hander Lance Lynn (9-7, 2.95) will start the series rematch on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Lynn is coming off the shortest start of his career, lasting just two-thirds of an inning against Pittsburgh.