ST. LOUIS (AP)—It was a breakout day for two Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers.
Converted closer Byung-Hyun Kim won his first career game as a starter and Matt Mantei got six straight outs for his first save in two seasons in a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
Luis Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth inning for Arizona. The Diamondbacks, who were swept by the Cardinals in the playoffs last fall, had lost six straight in St. Louis since winning Game 3 of the playoffs in 2001.
“They’ve had our number a little bit,” said infielder Craig Counsell, whose diving play at shortstop helped preserve the tie. “It’s two good teams going at it.”
Cardinals starter Jason Simontacchi (0-1) struggled for the third straight start, allowing four runs in five innings, and his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy. Simontacchi, 11-5 as a 28-year-old rookie last year, has allowed 15 runs in 12 innings overall for an ERA of 11.25.
The Cardinals won Simontacchi’s first two starts, scoring 26 runs. Manager Tony La Russa said Simontacchi will remain a starter for now, adding he’s not concerned about him.
“As long as he’s not concerned,” La Russa said. “He’s struggling a little bit. He’ll get better and better.”
Gonzalez hit an 0-2 fastball from Simontacchi over the center field wall with one out in the fifth, for a 4-3 lead. It was his fifth homer, and second in three games.
“He was set up in and he left it out over the plate,” Gonzalez said. “I can almost guarantee you that’s not where he wanted to throw it on an 0-2 pitch.”
The start for Kim (1-3), who had a team-record 36 saves last year, had been in question after he was struck on the right ankle by Preston Wilson’s broken bat in his last outing Monday against the Rockies. His rehabilitation included acupuncture treatment.
“I was a little bit sore, but I was able to pitch through it,” Kim said through an interpreter. “When I have to move quickly, it hurts a little bit.”
Kim survived a three-run fourth and lasted a career-best seven innings, allowing five hits with one strikeout and three walks.
“He was outstanding,” manager Bob Brenly said. “He really battled out there. That’s a tough lineup, those guys are leading the league in hitting for a reason, and it was exactly what we needed.”
Mantei earned his first save since April 16, 2001, at St. Louis. He had elbow surgery later that season and worked as a setup man part of last year. This was the first two-inning save of his career.
“No nerves, no anything, I just enjoyed myself out there like I usually do and I got the job done,” Mantei said. “I hadn’t been pitching that much, so I’m ready whenever he needs me.”
Kim doubled over the head of right fielder Eli Marrero, playing extremely shallow, for an RBI in the Diamondbacks’ two-run second. Tony Womack drove in the other run with a groundout after Lyle Overbay singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, a franchise rookie record, and Junior Spivey doubled to start the inning.
Counsell made a diving stab at shortstop of Marrero’s grounder up the middle and then threw him out at first to prevent the tying run from scoring in the eighth. Counsell had moved from third base that inning in a double switch.
“I think the guy was already putting a run on the board and the fans were already cheering and Counsell out of nowhere and makes that diving play,” Brenly said. “We’ve seen him do that time and time again no matter whatposition we put him in.”
Spivey, who had been in a 2-for-33 slump, was 2-for-3. … Overbay’s hitting streak tops the 11-game rookie run by Travis Lee in 1998. … Martinez is 13-for-33 during a seven-game hitting streak. … Kim is 3-for-20 at theplate for his career with two doubles.