ST. LOUIS -- The element of surprise worked in Jeff Mathis' favor on Sunday, and it was a turning point in the Marlins' 6-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Down a run with two outs in the fourth inning, Mathis saw third baseman Jhonny Peralta playing back with Giancarlo Stanton on third, so the veteran dropped down a successful surprise bunt. The squeeze drove in Stanton, ending a scoreless streak in St. Louis and energizing a stagnant offense.
"For me, the play that changed the whole game was Matty's bunt," Marlins third baseman Martin Prado said. "It was like, it changed the momentum. Not even us were expecting that bunt. I think that play was huge. From that point on, we felt like we've got to find a way to score runs."
Blanked 5-0 on three hits by Adam Wainwright on Saturday, the Marlins were being held in check by Michael Wacha early on Sunday. So Mathis provided a spark with a heads-up play.
Matt Holliday's home run in the second inning off Adam Conley gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. And Wacha was cruising along through three, with the Marlins in a stretch of 12 straight innings without scoring a run.
In the fourth, Stanton doubled and went to third on Derek Dietrich's infield single, which clipped the leg of Wacha.
Briefly shaken up, Wacha continued and struck out Don Kelly with runners on the corners. With two outs, Mathis paid close attention to where Peralta was lined up at third.
"I walked into the box, and their dugout started whistling at [Peralta] to get him in," Mathis said. "He came in until [the count] was 2-1, and that's when he went back."
Peralta retreated, and Wacha threw a pitch Mathis could handle.
"That's on his own," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "There are two outs. He, obviously, was aware that [Peralta] moved back. Maybe that pitch opened it up for him, and he took advantage."
Mathis dropped down just the third bunt single by a Marlin this year.
"Wacha had just gotten hit, so I figured he might not be moving as well as he normally does," Mathis said. "He put one right over the plate that I knew I could hook a little bit, and hit it good enough to hit it by him and with [Peralta] being back there. Any time you push a run across to tie the game, it's big."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.