ST. LOUIS -- Giancarlo Stanton didn't need his home run swing to do significant damage on Sunday afternoon. The Home Run Derby champion showed that a line-drive approach is pretty effective, as he collected two doubles, drove in the go-ahead run and scored twice in the Marlins' 6-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Christian Yelich drove in three runs and Ichiro Suzuki collected three hits, moving six away from reaching 3,000 on a day Miami took two of three in the series and moved two games ahead of St. Louis in the National League Wild Card standings.
"We've got a lot of different ways we can score runs with our lineup," Yelich said. "That's a sign of a good team."
The Marlins outhit the Cardinals, 13-4, and Miami's pitchers combined to strike out 15, one shy of a season high.
"It's Important to establish yourself in the second half," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You obviously don't want to start your season where you lose a bunch in a row, and you don't want to come out of the break like that. We feel like this is going to be a fun time for this team."
Yelich's two-run single off Michael Wacha in the fifth inning put Miami ahead, 3-1. But a wild pitch by Miami lefty Adam Conley allowed the Cardinals to close to within 3-2 in the fifth, and after a leadoff walk to Aledmys Diaz in the sixth, Matt Holliday tapped a slow roller to short and Adeiny Hechavarria's throw to first bounced and got by first baseman Don Kelly, allowing Diaz to score from first on the throwing error.
"He's looking to make plays when he's on the bases," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the rookie All-Star Diaz. "I think he's going to be a better basestealer. He's got instincts, he wants to go all the time. He realizes that's something he can bring to the table."
Holliday's home run to open the second inning gave the Cardinals the lead, but the Marlins tied it in the fourth on Jeff Mathis' two-out, game-tying safety squeeze bunt, which scored Stanton, who doubled.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Stanton's doubles and slide: Stanton's two-base hit in the fourth inning, according to Statcast™, had an exit velocity of 116 mph, according to Statcast™, and his RBI double to center in the seventh inning gave Miami the lead for good. It was tracked at 110 mph. In the seventh inning, Stanton made a nice swipe tag of the plate, scoring on Kelly's sacrifice fly.
"[Stanton] is getting to that point where he doesn't feel like he has to do something," Miami third baseman Martin Prado said. "He just kind of having fun, playing defense, moving, being involved. This is a game when you get caught thinking only about your offense, you forget about your defense."
Wacha wild: A wild pitch from Wacha in the fourth inning allowed Marlins runners to advance to second and third with two outs. He then intentionally walked Hechavarria to load the bases, but got out of the jam with a strikeout of Conley. Wacha paid for turning over the lineup in the next inning when Yelich hit a two-run single after a leadoff walk to Ichiro and a ground-rule double by Prado. It gave the Marlins the lead and chased Wacha from the game. The righty gave up three runs on seven hits in four-plus innings, resulting in his shortest outing since May 24.
"I feel like they battled really good," Wacha said. "Guys were battling out there, fouling off some tough pitches and extending at-bats. It's tough having those long innings there when you're trying to get the team back to the dugout as fast as you can. Just probably too many mistakes today, but they were grinding out some at-bats for sure."
Diaz does it again: Diaz has now reached safely in 21 straight games, the longest streak by a rookie in the Major Leagues this season. In addition to walking and scoring the tying run from first in the sixth, Diaz also stole a base Sunday.
"Reading the ball in the dirt, that's a great play," Matheny said. "Great heads up."
Chase for 3,000: Making his first start since July 2 at Atlanta, Ichiro moved six hits shy of being the 30th player in MLB history to reach 3,000. Ichiro led off the game with a single to center off Wacha. And he added a double in the sixth inning and an infield single in the eighth. The Marlins aren't forcing history with Ichiro, who continues to be used as a fourth outfielder and spot starter. With Sunday being a day game after a night game, Marcell Ozuna was given a breather. Ozuna started for the NL in the All-Star Game, so he has been on the go, and was given a break.
"He's been doing this for us all year long," Mattingly said. "It's easier to give guys a day. Marcell, obviously, it's kind of funny giving him a day two days after the break. He's a guy who went to the All-Star Game, played in it. Obviously, a lot of activity. Played it in for the first time. Actually, [hitting coach] Frankie [Menechino] told me he felt like [Ozuna] needed a day. I'm going to Frankie, he sees these guys in the cage. Kind of sees their rhythm, and today seemed the right day."
"It's obviously more fun when you're playing for something. But you try not to put too much of a burden and pressure on yourself, because we've been playing well all year. Just try to get a little bit better in certain areas, but the main thing for us is not to try to do more than we're capable of. I think if everybody stays in their lane and stays within themselves, I think we're going to be fine. You see, we're never really out of the game. We keep pushing, keep pushing. That's what kind of team we are." -- Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, who had two saves in the series, and has 29 on the season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Yefri Perez made his MLB debut for the Marlins in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner for Cole Gillespie, who singled. A speedster, Perez drew a throw to first as he raced to second. He ended up stealing the base -- his first big league steal -- before scoring his first run.
Ichiro briefly had hit No. 2,993 in the third inning when he was initially ruled safe at first base on an infield grounder to Diaz. The hit was taken away and the safe call overturned after a 57-second review.
Wacha was hit in the leg with a comebacker off Derek Dietrich's bat, Alberto Rosario cramped up and Randal Grichuk stepped away from the plate briefly as all three were looked at by the Cardinals' training staff on a very hot St. Louis afternoon. Wacha said he "felt fine" after the game.
"I think the heat with Randal," Matheny said. "He just took a swing and felt a little off balance. Rosario just cramped, and it could have been kind of the same thing. Getting used to the heat and sweating as much as you do on days like this, it's something you've got to be pretty conscientious about."
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: The Marlins open a four-game series on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies. All-Star Jose Fernandez (11-4. 2.52 ERA) makes his first start of the second half. Aaron Nola (5-8, 4.69) goes for the Phillies. Fernandez has not faced the Phillies this season.
Cardinals: The Redbirds open a four-game series with the Padres on Monday night at 7:15 p.m. CT. Mike Leake (6-7, 4.14 ERA) will take the mound for St. Louis. He earned the win and struck out 10 batters without allowing a walk in his last start against the Brewers.