PHOENIX -- Rubby De La Rosa struck out a career-high 10 and allowed two hits in a dominating performance Thursday night as the D-backs beat the Cardinals, 3-0, to split the four-game series at Chase Field.
"We really needed it," D-backs manager Chip Hale said of De La Rosa's performance. "He threw all those pitches with conviction. He had a good breaking ball tonight, he changed the break on it every now and again -- little tighter, little bigger -- mixed in his changeup and just located a really good fastball. It looked like to me when it was down there was a lot of movement downward."
It was the second straight good start for De La Rosa (3-3) after an uneven first two. Both of the hits De La Rosa allowed were singles, and only only one runner made it as far as second base against him over his seven innings. The right-hander became the first D-backs pitcher to throw seven or more shutout innings while striking out at least 10 batters since Ian Kennedy in 2011.
"That was as good as I've ever seen him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of De La Rosa. "It doesn't matter [our] approach. If you're throwing 95-97 [mph], putting movement on it and putting it on the corners, it's going to be a long day. That's all there is to it."
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha (2-1) deserved a better fate. The right-hander allowed five hits and struck out nine in seven innings of work. The home run ball is what did him in, with D-backs catcher Chris Herrmann hitting a two-run shot off Wacha in the second and left fielder Brandon Drury adding a solo homer in the fourth. Wacha had not allowed a long ball to the first 100 hitters he faced this year.
"The pitches and command felt really good tonight," said Wacha, who threw a career-high 114 pitches. "The plan going into the game today was establish the fastball down in the zone and really try to work down because of the ballpark we're playing in. The ball can really fly out of here."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Power surge: The ball has been flying out of Chase Field this year, and in this case, it wound up helping the D-backs. The two home runs give the D-backs 36 this year, tops in the Majors. The Cardinals and Rockies, who each have hit 33, are the next-closest teams.
"We've seen the ball jump here a little bit, haven't we?" Hale said.
You got it? Shortstop Aledmys Diaz and center fielder Stephen Piscotty both lost a popup to shallow center by Drury in the sky, and it resulted in a costly two-base hit with one out in the second. Wacha couldn't work around the miscue, either, as four pitches later he served up Herrmann's home run. Piscotty was making his first start of the season in center.
"My first step was back, which wasn't good," Piscotty said. "Then it was kind of twilight time, so I didn't get a good read on it. I came in and realized I didn't have a chance. I talked to Diaz, and he had the same problem I did. That sort of stuff happens, but it's a play you have to make, for sure."
Rest for the weary: By going seven innings, De La Rosa was able to give a little rest to a tired bullpen, which has logged the most innings in Major League Baseball this season. Earlier in the day, the D-backs summoned right-hander Jake Barrett from Triple-A Reno to try and freshen up the 'pen.
"We were just trying to keep guys off balance, mixing in a first-pitch slider, busting them in now and then," Herrmann said. "Just really keeping these guys off balance. These guys swing the bat pretty well, and we were just trying to make them uncomfortable, and [De La Rosa] did a really good job of that today."
No traction: The Cardinals generated little offensive momentum, but missed out on a potential scoring opportunity in the second. The inning turned on a full-count, called third strike that Jedd Gyorko thought was off the plate. Instead of taking first to load the bases, Gyorko became the second out of the inning. Diaz, who had his seven-game hitting streak snapped, then grounded out to leave the two baserunners stranded.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals open a 10-game homestand on Friday with a 7:15 p.m. CT game against the Nationals. Starter Mike Leake, who flew home ahead of his teammates so he wasn't traveling through the night, will take the mound in search of his first win with the Cards.
D-backs:Robbie Ray looks to rebound from his worst outing of the season when the D-backs open a three-game series against the Rockies on Friday night with a 6:40 p.m. MST start at Chase Field.