ST. LOUIS -- Boosted by Jedd Gyorko's early blast, starter Luke Weaver capped his Busch Stadium debut with his first Major League win to help the Cardinals get back on track at Busch Stadium on Friday night. Winless in their first seven home Interleague games this season, the Cardinals ended that skid with a 3-1 win over the A's, who returned to St. Louis for the first time since 2010.
The victory pulled the Cardinals to within one game of the Giants in the race for the top Wild Card spot and boosted their lead for the second Wild Card berth to 1 1/2 games over the Marlins.
"It was a good, clean game, probably one of the faster ones we've had," Gyorko said after the two-hour, 26-minute affair. "It was fun to play behind Luke the way he was throwing the ball. He looked good. Hopefully he just keeps going the way he's going."
After allowing five runs in his first nine big-league innings, Weaver found his footing on Friday. He became the sixth Cardinals pitcher since 1913 to strike out seven in his home debut and limited Oakland to four hits over a career-best six innings. The only hit that hurt was a second-inning solo homer by Yonder Alonso, now a career .365 hitter at Busch Stadium.
"It was indescribable," Weaver said of throwing his first pitches at Busch Stadium. "I know on the road you have a bunch of awesome stadiums and [another] fan base, but to have your fan base behind you and just to be in the atmosphere of the Cardinals is just awesome. I got really excited and a little bit nervous before the game, but as I settled in, I could just feel the crowd. It was just a lot of fun." More >>
By the time Alonso went deep, however, the Cardinals had already built their advantage. Gyorko followed a leadoff single by Matt Carpenter with his 15th home run since the All-Star break. It was the third home run A's starter Ross Detwiler has allowed in his last three starts, none of which Oakland has won. The Cardinals added an insurance run with Jhonny Peralta's sixth-inning sacrifice fly.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Homer happy: Gyorko's first-inning homer extended the Cardinals' home run streak to 15 games (two shy of the team's season high) and added to his incredible second-half run. Gyorko has seven homers during the club's current home run streak, and he leads the National League with 15 since the All-Star break. His eight home runs in August are the most he's hit in a month since he reached that total back in August 2013.
Healy's daily helping: The A's were limited to five hits, but one belonged to rookie Ryon Healy, who extending his hitting streak to 12 games with a two-out single in the fourth. It's the longest active streak in the Majors and also tied with Coco Crisp for the longest by an A's player this season. Healy, who has started 38 of the club's 39 games at third base since his July 15 promotion, is 19-for-49 during this stretch.
"He's got a good approach right now," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The more he's here, the more confident he is. He's playing every day, seeing pretty much every type of pitcher, and he's been good about making adjustments." More >>
Grichuk's grab: Despite being held hitless over three at-bats, Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk came up big in the field. His diving catch on Stephen Vogt's sinking line drive stalled the A's fifth-inning scoring opportunity by closing the inning with runners stranded at first and third. A pair of walks by Weaver, who has issued five in his first 15 big-league innings, had gotten him into that mess.
"It really saved me some stress out there and also saved the game run-wise," Weaver said. "I felt like I made some good pitches, just lost those batters there off the plate. He made a heck of a play."
Self sacrifice: The Cardinals have run into their fair share of outs on the bases this season, but Yadier Molina's decision to get himself into a rundown helped the Cardinals add their insurance run. Brandon Moss had already been aggressive going first-to-third on a bloop single, and he then decided to challenge A's center fielder Coco Crisp on Peralta's shallow flyball to center. There would be no play at the plate, though, as Molina lured Oakland into trying to tag him as he advanced toward second. The A's did record the out, but not before Moss crossed home.
"That was huge, a couple of baserunning plays from guys who aren't necessarily known as good base runners," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Moss reading the blooper off the bat to challenge and get to third and challenging the throw home. Then Yadi [with a] very heads up [play] trying to get that run across, realizing that it was worth the out to make sure we get that run. It was just good baseball."
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Molina played in his 1,580th career game on Friday, tying him with Rogers Hornsby and Ray Lankford for 10th most in Cardinals history.
WHAT'S NEXT A's: Right-hander Zach Neal gets the nod for Saturday's matchup with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, with first pitch scheduled for 4:15 p.m. PT in the second of a three-game series. Neal took the loss in his last start Sunday, allowing four runs on eight hits against the host White Sox to fall to 1-3 with a 7.91 ERA in four starting assignments this season.
Cardinals: Top prospect Alex Reyes will make his first Major League start on Saturday after the Cardinals were forced to pull Mike Leake from his schedule start. Leake has been diagnosed with shingles. Reyes has thrown 9 1/3 scoreless innings in relief since being promoted earlier this month.