Piscotty's HR in 7th lifts Cards in Wild chase

Piscotty's HR in 7th lifts Cards in Wild chase

SAN DIEGO -- Stephen Piscotty turned around Wednesday night's game at Petco Park -- and possibly the Cardinals' postseason fortunes -- with one loud swing in the seventh inning.

For six frames, Padres rookie right-hander Dinelson Lamet held St. Louis to one hit, but Jose Martinez opened the seventh with a single. Piscotty crushed Lamet's next pitch for a go-ahead two-run blast, the decisive blow in a 3-1 Cardinals victory, their fourth straight.

With the win, St. Louis picked up a game on both the Rockies and Brewers in the National League Wild Card race. The Cardinals, now 7-2 on this road trip -- trail Colorado by two games for the second Wild Card spot and now sit a half-game ahead of Milwaukee. The Cubs, who won, still hold a four-game edge atop the NL Central.

"I think there's a vibe that we're all kind of feeling that we're getting on a roll and firing on all cylinders," Piscotty said. "It's real exciting. It's a great time for it to happen. I feel like we've been saying it for months, weeks, that if we can just put it all together, it could be special. I think now we're doing it. But the job is not done by any means."

Lamet was brilliant aside from the homer, striking out eight over six-plus frames as he continued his torrid second half. Since the All-Star break, he owns a 3.16 ERA with 68 punchouts in 57 innings.

Lamet's terrific outing

"There was one pitch that I made a mistake on, a two-seamer that I left up in the zone," Lamet said. "It stayed middle of the plate, and I paid the price for it."

Fellow rookie Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect was solid over five innings in his second big league start. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out four, a significant improvement from his debut against San Francisco. He labored a bit, walking four, but he only blinked once -- a fourth-inning solo homer by Yangervis Solarte.

Flaherty K's Pirela, the side

"It was a really big win tonight," Flaherty said after his second no-decision. "We're just looking to end the season strong, and I'll try to do whatever I can to help the team."

San Diego didn't threaten again until the bottom of the ninth, when Hector Sanchez and Jabari Blash opened the frame with singles against Tyler Lyons. But the southpaw fanned a pair before getting Cory Spangenberg to pop to center, ending the game.

Lyons locks down the save

Yan gone: Solarte's homer was his 16th of the season, a career high for the Padres infielder. Fifteen of those have come as a left-handed hitter, including on Wednesday, when he turned around a 1-0 changeup from Flaherty and sent it into the right-field seats.

"He was driving balls out of the park last year, too, he just didn't get a ton of at-bats," said Padres manager Andy Green. "For the most part ... he's keeping pace with what he did last year. [The power] looks really good."

Solarte's solo home run

Make 'em pay: The Cardinals didn't record an at-bat with a man in scoring position until the eighth inning, after Tommy Pham -- whose ailing shoulder limited him to pinch-running duty -- swiped second. Dexter Fowler promptly smacked a low line drive toward first baseman Wil Myers, who had a chance to double Pham off second. But Myers -- who has taken a step back defensively this season -- couldn't corral the ball, allowing it to trickle into right field. Pham advanced to third and would score an unearned run on Harrison Bader's sacrifice fly.

Bader's sacrifice fly

"He went to Memphis with a plan, and I think he started having some instant success as soon as he found something that felt right, and then he brought that confidence back here. I think it's also a great testament, not just to what the staff is doing in Memphis but to the attitude these guys take [down there]. That's rare. So many times you go down and they have their feelings hurt because it's no fun going back to Triple-A." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on the improvements Piscotty made during a recent stint in the Minors

"You're hoping [Erick Aybar] pops something and sets us up for the win rather than playing for a tie." -- Green, on his decision not to bunt with two on and no outs in the ninth

Green on Lamet's outing, loss

Sanchez makes comical attempt at framing pitch

Cardinals: The 10-game road trip will conclude on Thursday with an 8:10 p.m. CT game in San Diego. Lance Lynn, who allowed one hit over eight scoreless innings his last time out, will start for St. Louis. The Cardinals expect newly acquired reliever Juan Nicasio to be in uniform for the game.

Padres: Clayton Richard starts Thursday's finale of a four-game series against St. Louis at 6:10 p.m. PT. The Padres have won four of Richard's past five starts, and the veteran left-hander is approaching his third career 200-inning season. Preview >>

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.