Carpenter's injury a challenge for Cards to step up

Carpenter's injury a challenge for Cards to step up

ST. LOUIS -- The weight of Matt Carpenter's absence won't be easy to carry, but the Cardinals started to bear the load on Thursday in a 5-1 victory over the Pirates, preventing what would have been the four-game sweep by a visiting club at Busch Stadium since 2009.

The Cardinals' second baseman had an extremely productive first half for St. Louis but landed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain on Thursday, the day after he was named to the National League team in Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.

"It's going to be a great test for us," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "There are certain guys, and I saw it last year, that see when adversity hits. There is something about them to where they grow twice the size. They almost thrive on all the doubt. They thrive on all the speculation of what it means. And they take it personally when all the tenor is that you can't do something."

Carpenter's All-Star Game replacement, Aledmys Diaz, homered one at-bat after Carpenter exited with his injury on Wednesday, and Diaz tripled and scored in the fourth inning on Thursday.

Diaz's solo homer

"We know it's a tough loss for us," Diaz said. "He's a great player, a great hitter, but we have guys who can be next up and play well like today."

Garcia's diving catch

Greg Garcia hit leadoff on Thursday, filling a spot traditionally reserved for Carpenter. He played third base on Wednesday and Thursday, scoring a run in each game, and may see more appearances around the infield.

Wong singles

Kolten Wong replaced Carpenter on Wednesday, hustling for an RBI bunt single. Wong bunted for a hit again on Thursday and will likely start at second base regularly while Carpenter is out.

"Those guys who are on the bench, just sitting there waiting our turn, now is the time to step up for the team," Wong said. "We need to do what we can to try and get some wins for this team and try to help out."

Center fielder Randal Grichuk hit a solo home run in the fifth inning on Thursday and is 5-for-8 since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday.

Grichuk's solo home run

Grichuk was recalled when first baseman/right fielder Brandon Moss was lost to the DL with a left ankle sprain. Stephen Piscotty replaced Moss' home run power on Thursday with a three-run home run in the sixth.

Piscotty homers after review

Ace Adam Wainwright, who threw a season-high 113 pitches and tied a season high with nine strikeouts on Thursday, theorized that Carpenter's injury may be just the spark the Cardinals need to turn their season around.

"We needed a kick in the pants anyway," Wainwright said. "We needed a jumpstart, something to get it going. Last year, me getting hurt and [Matt] Holliday getting hurt and [Matt] Adams getting hurt, maybe that was the kick last year where everybody said, 'We can still do this.' Hopefully we'll take that attitude now and we'll start showing up with that chip on the shoulder to show the world that we can still win."

Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.