Unusual suspects lead Cards' 5th straight win

Unusual suspects lead Cards' 5th straight win

PHOENIX -- The Cardinals completed a season sweep of the D-backs on Thursday with a 5-3 victory punctuated by home runs from backup catcher Tony Cruz and fill-in outfielder Brandon Moss before reliever Seth Maness highlighted the night by pulling off a great escape.

After sweeping a three-game home series against the D-backs in May, the Cardinals interrupted Arizona's attempt to keep climbing up the National League West standings by winning four straight at Chase Field. In doing so, the Cardinals, who have won five in a row on this road trip, maintained their 4 1/2-game lead in the NL Central. This was their first four-game sweep at Chase Field.

The Cardinals raced out to a 3-0 advantage against Arizona starter Rubby De La Rosa by sandwiching a pair of RBI doubles around Cruz's first home run of the season. Cards starter Carlos Martinez gave it all back in the bottom of the second, however, when he allowed run-scoring hits to Jake Lamb and Ender Inciarte.

"In the first two innings, I was overthrowing," Martinez said. "Then I made adjustments, got myself straighter on the mound and I felt more comfortable."

Those adjustments helped Martinez (13-6) settle in as he went on to retire the next 13 in a row to close his six-inning start. De La Rosa had his five-start winning streak snapped by Moss, who made his first home run with the Cardinals -- a two-out, two-run blast in the fifth -- stick as the game-winner. Maness helped preserve it with his ability to strand the bases loaded in the eighth.

Moss mashes: Homerless in his first 58 plate appearances since being acquired in a trade with the Indians, Moss tallied his first for the Cardinals with a tie-breaking blast. Moss averaged a home run every 22 at-bats with Cleveland, but had driven in just one run in his first 20 games with St. Louis. The Cardinals connected for five home runs in the series, each hit by someone different.

"It felt good just to contribute," Moss said. "I've hit some balls well, but still at the end of the day, you look up and really have nothing to show for it. I felt like my at-bats lately had been getting a lot better. I've been seeing pitches a lot better and calming down a little bit. Tonight, I finally got a pitch and hit it far enough to go over the fence instead of to it." More >

Moss' two-run home run

Maness' masterful maneuvering : Cards reliever Steve Cishek presented Arizona with a golden opportunity to climb back in the game as he walked the bases loaded to open his eighth-inning appearance. But Maness bailed him out, preserving his team's two-run lead by striking out David Peralta and Castillo before getting an inning-ending groundout from Lamb on a 3-2 changeup.

"You try not to think too much into it," Maness said of the situation. "You know the bases are loaded, but it's one pitch at a time trying to execute one pitch and then the next pitch." More >

Maness ends bases-loaded threat

Streaking Inciarte: The D-backs' right fielder capped off the three-run second inning with a two-out, two-run single off Martinez that scored Welington Castillo and Aaron Hill to tie the game, 3-3. Inciarte is riding a six-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 18 of the last 22 games in which he started.

Inciarte's two-run single

Developing De La Rosa: De La Rosa is having a career year, and he could be the best pitcher on the D-backs' staff at the moment, but the right-hander remains a work in progress. The 26-year-old was charged with five runs on five hits in five innings. He struck out four batters, but also walked four.

Cruz's solo home run

"Rubby has proven to us what he is going to do. Tonight, for some reason, maybe because he wanted to stop the losing streak or maybe because it was the Cardinals and he was tired of watching them beating us here at our house that maybe he was trying too hard. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt the way he has pitched for us." -- D-backs manager Chip Hale, on De La Rosa

Cardinals reliever Randy Choate allowed a seventh-inning single to Lamb, the only batter he faced before being removed. That made Thursday the 16th time this year that the lefty specialist has appeared only to retire no batters. It's a new career high for him and just one off the Major League record, set by Sean Runyan with the Tigers in 1998.

In the top of the second inning, De La Rosa fielded a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Martinez and threw to second base in attempt to get lead runner Greg Garcia on a forceout. The call was safe and was allowed to stand after the review, as the replay official couldn't determine whether shortstop Chris Owings' foot was on the bag when he received the throw ahead of the runner.

Martinez advances runner

The Cardinals lost their challenge in the bottom half of the same inning when they unsuccessfully challenged a safe call by first-base umpire Greg Gibson. After taking a feed from shortstop Jhonny Peralta for a forceout at second, second baseman Kolten Wong tried to turn the team's 10th double play of the series, but video replay confirmed that Hill beat the throw to first base.

Hill gets to first

Cardinals: The Cardinals will end this 10-game road trip with a series in San Francisco, where Michael Wacha (15-4, 2.80 ERA) and the Giants' Mike Leake (9-6, 3.44) will match up in Friday's 9:15 p.m. CT opener. The Cardinals won two out of three against the Giants last week.

D-backs: Arizona will send Chase Anderson to the hill in the first game of the three-game series against Sonny Gray and the A's at 6:40 p.m. MST on Friday at Chase Field. Anderson, who was recalled from Triple-A on Sunday just days after being optioned, pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Reds. He allowed five hits, while striking out two and walking three. He is 2-1 with a 3.84 ERA in four August starts.

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Jenifer Langosch and Jesse Sanchez are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.