Cishek steps up, earns first save with Cards

Cishek steps up, earns first save with Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had to go off script in the late innings of Tuesday's 3-1 win over Cincinnati, as recent usage left Jonathan Broxton and closer Trevor Rosenthal unavailable for additional work.

Matheny utilized his most reliable reliever, Kevin Siegrist, in the eighth, picking that spot so Siegrist would match up against the left-handed-hitting Jay Bruce and Joey Votto as the Reds went through the heart of their order. Matheny then handed the ninth over to Steve Cishek, a former closer, yes, but also one coming off a gut punch in Chicago.

Acquired just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline to fortify the back end of the bullpen, Cishek has been searching for consistency of command since. His most recent appearance on Saturday had been his most frustrating yet, as Cishek was crushed for a two-run homer by Starlin Castro in what became a runaway win by the Cubs.

That hit stuck with Cishek more than most.

"I've tended to go in there and get too excited and try to overdo stuff, try to be someone I'm not, try to overthrow everything," Cishek said. "When I gave up that homer to Castro, it was a huge wakeup call to me. I was pretty ticked off. It put a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to go out there and make the adjustment, mentally, to go out there stick my sinker down and be the sinker-slider guy I've always been."

Cishek took a step in that direction on Tuesday, closing out the ninth on 14 pitches while Matheny readied another pair of relievers in the bullpen in case Cishek got into a mess. Cishek didn't need the bailout, as he worked around a one-out single with ease.

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"That was big for him today to come in there and be clean," Matheny said. "His stuff is so good, and we've seen this guy be one of the more dominant late-inning guys in the game. The stuff isn't that much different. A lot of it is confidence. A lot of it is feel. … We'd like to see him pitch significant innings. We know that he can."

The save was the 95th of Cishek's career, incidentally the same amount Rosenthal has. But it was his first since Miami took him out of the closer's role in May. Cishek is the sixth Cardinals reliever to tally a save this year.

"I'm still new to the ballclub, and that was the first time I've had the opportunity to come into a big situation like that to finish the game out," he said. "I just wanted to go out there and not let the team down, put up a zero."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.