Cards' Westbrook 'feels' his way to 4-1 win over Marlins

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- If the sinker is a "feel" pitch, as some contend it is, then Jake Westbrook was feeling it on Friday night.
Recording 18 of his 21 outs on grounders, Westbrook breezed through seven innings against Miami as the Cardinals bounced back from a rough stretch against the American League West with a 4-1 win at sold-out Busch Stadium.
Allen Craig drove in two runs and Matt Holliday doubled twice for St. Louis (51-34), which won for just the fourth time in 12 games and stayed within two games of front-running Pittsburgh in the National League Central.
Trevor Rosenthal fanned the side in the eighth and Edward Mujica rebounded from his first blown save in Thursday night's loss to the Angels, working a clean ninth for his 22nd save.
Westbrook (5-3) needed just 86 pitches to negotiate a Marlins lineup which entered the game with just four players hitting better than .232. He didn't register a strikeout, but walked none and had just three three-ball counts.
"Getting ahead in counts and controlling counts," Westbrook said when asked why he succeeded. "You have to get the ball down there for them to swing at it, and there's sort of a fine line to find a way to get them aggressive and make them swing. I was able to do that."
Other than Logan Morrison's 440-foot homer over the center field wall to lead off the second, Westbrook ran into little trouble. Miami (32-53) got just one other runner to second and he was erased on a bizarre double play which appeared to include two missed calls by the umpires.
With men at first and second and no outs in the top of the fifth, Marlins pitcher Jacob Turner bunted right at the plate. Catcher Yadier Molina grabbed the ball and tagged Turner in the same motion. Although the ball appeared to be foul, crew chief and plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth called Turner out.
Molina then threw to third baseman David Freese, who stood on the bag and never tagged Adelny Hechavarria. But Brian O'Nora called Hechavarria out, even though the force was removed once Molina tagged Turner. Hechavarria then trotted off the field, making him out by rule anyway.
O'Nora wouldn't talk to a pool reporter, but Culbreth said O'Nora might not have seen his out call because he was screened out by third base coach Joe Espada.
"It was an unfortunate set of circumstances," Culbreth said. "You had three or four things happening at the same time."
Miami managed just one baserunner over the game's last four innings, but manager Mike Redmond downplayed the questionable rulings' impact on the game.
"We had just three hits, so it wasn't like we were doing a whole lot anyway," he said. "If we had gotten the bunt down, it might have been a different game.
St. Louis grabbed the lead in the bottom of the first against Turner (2-1) on two-out doubles by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. After Morrison's third homer of the year, the Cardinals untied it in their half of the third with three runs.
Holliday doubled for the second straight at-bat to score Matt Carpenter and Craig plated Jon Jay with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right. Matt Adams doubled off the wall in left-center to score Holliday.
The Cardinals went hitless for the game's remainder as Turner, a native of nearby St. Charles who played with the son of St. Louis manager Mike Matheny in high school, retired nine of the last 10 men he faced.
"I thought our guys had good approaches and put some good swings on (Turner) early," Matheny said.
NOTES: St. Louis RHP Chris Carpenter (right shoulder) threw 106 pitches on Friday in a bullpen session and was "really encouraged" after it was over. There's a chance he could go on a rehab assignment soon. ... One reason for Miami's recent success has been its ability to avoid walks. Since June 18, it's doled out just 32 in 133 2/3 innings, the best in the National League and the third-lowest in MLB. ... The Cardinals gave SS Pete Kozma, who's 0-for-17 with seven strikeouts in his last five games, his second straight game off. RF Carlos Beltran also didn't start after playing in all eight games of their just-concluded road trip.

What to Read Next