ST. LOUIS -- Aledmys Diaz hit a rocket to left field, and the Cardinals walked off with a 6-5 win and a four-game sweep of the Padres on Thursday night at Busch Stadium.
After loading the bases with one out, Padres reliever Carlos Villanueva ran the count full before Diaz turned around a fastball, smacking a single to left for the Cardinals' fourth walk-off win of the season. Tommy Pham ignited the rally with a leadoff single before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, sandwiched by two intentional walks.
"[Diaz is] having a terrific season," Matheny said. "You put him up in that situation, Villanueva makes a couple nice pitches behind in the count, off-speed pitches, puts him into a 3-2, and he's trusting himself right now."
Yangervis Solarte's blast in the top of the eighth put the Padres on top, 5-1, and extended their franchise-record home-run streak to 19 games. But the Cardinals came right back, scoring four times against Padres reliever Ryan Buchter to tie the score. Stephen Piscotty delivered the big blow, a three-run shot into the seats in right-center, knotting the score at 5.
"That was a special one, especially with Diaz being able to cap it off with that huge hit," Piscotty said. "Those things are a lot more fun when you end up winning."
If, indeed, the Padres are looking to deal Andrew Cashner before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, he put his talents on full display. The hard-throwing right-hander looked very sharp over 5 2/3 innings. He allowed just one run on three hits while striking out eight -- his second strong outing in a row amid a flurry of trade rumors.
"What good is worrying about it going to do?" Cashner said of the trade possibilities. "I know I'm going to be traded. It's just part of the game, part of where the season's at."
For the Cardinals, it's their first four-game sweep at home since 2010, and their first such sweep of the Padres since 2008. With the win they equaled their high-water mark, at seven games over .500, and sit just 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs, their smallest deficit since May 23.
"It was great," Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said. "It's not easy to sweep anybody. At this level, to sweep a big league club, especially at home, when we had not played well at home. It was important for us to do that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Extra, extra:Ryan Schimpf has been the Padres' most valuable offensive weapon this month, and he made his presence felt in the fifth, when he doubled and scored. Since being called up in June, he has 18 hits -- 14 for extra bases.
Double trouble: When Schimpf scored on Alexei Ramirez's single in the fifth, it was the first run Wainwright had allowed in 18 1/3 innings dating back to Jordy Mercer's RBI double in the second inning on July 7. Travis Jankowski doubled four batters after Schimpf but was thrown out at third base to end the fifth inning. Wainwright went six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts.
"It's a lineup you have to make pitches to, and I made a couple bad pitches, but other than that it was pretty sharp," Wainwright said.
Sol power: Solarte, who leads the Majors in extra-base hits this month, provided the thump for the Padres, going 3-for-4 with a double and a dinger. His blast off Miguel Socolovich made the Padres the first National League team to reach 19 straight games with a homer since the Brewers did so in 2008.
"I have a lot of confidence in this team," Solarte said. "I know we have some power on this team. It's just been a little inconsistent, a little up and down, so hopefully things can all come together at the right time." More >
Happy Anniversary: Held out of the starting lineup, Piscotty pinch-hit for Matt Adams in the sixth inning. He remained in the game at first base, and hit a game-tying three-run homer in the eighth. The blast came on the one-year anniversary of his Major League debut, and it gave the Cards their 12th straight game with a home run.
"This was a moment at the top of the list," Piscotty said. "Thought it had a chance, but the way the center fielder was going after it, I thought he might snag it right at the wall."
"Chalk it up to an off day. He's had too many good days over the course of the season to really get concerned about him. His performance has been outstanding." -- Padres manager Andy Green, on Buchter
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Piscotty's homer was the Cardinals' 49th in the seventh inning or later, the most in the Major Leagues.
Holliday's nose was grazed by a pitch from Cashner in the sixth inning, and he left the game after initially walking to first base. The Cardinals characterized the injury as a facial abrasion; the nose wasn't broken. His status is day to day. More >
"Definitely felt terrible about hitting Holliday in the face," Cashner said. "I've never done that. Fastball just got away."
WHAT'S NEXT Padres:Luis Perdomo gets the ball on Friday in Washington as the Padres open a three-game set, with first pitch set for 4:05 p.m. PT. An increased reliance on his sinker has given Perdomo a legitimate out pitch, and he sits sixth in the Majors with a 57.3 percent ground-ball rate this season.
Cardinals: The Cardinals start a three-game series at home against the Dodgers on Friday with Michael Wacha on the mound. He gave up six runs (two earned) over four innings in his last outing against the Dodgers, in Los Angeles on May 13. He has a 5.37 ERA in 11 appearances since that start. First pitch is slated for 7:15 p.m. CT.