Game Report: Cardinals 8, Royals 5

The rally squirrel already has a spot in St. Louis sports lore. The rally cat may have joined him on Wednesday night.

On the first pitch after a cat ran onto the outfield in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium, Yadier Molina launched a grand slam that lifted the Cardinals from a 5-4 deficit to a win over the Royals.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Cardinals and combined with a loss by the Cubs left them just 1 ½ games out of first place in the NL Central.

Whether the cat will have the same impact as the squirrel that ran in front of Skip Schumaker as he was batting in game four of the 2011 NL Division Series before the Cardinals rallied to defeat the Phillies and go on to win the World Series remains to be seen.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
After falling behind 3-0 in the first two innings, the Cardinals responded, tying the game on an RBI single by Jedd Gyorko, before Jose Martinez hit his ninth homer of the year in the fourth to put the Cardinals ahead … After falling behind again, the Cardinals loaded the bases in the sixth on a single by Greg Garcia, a walk to Matt Carpenter and a two-out intentional walk to Dexter Fowler before Molina hit his fifth career grand slam and 14th homer of the season … The 14 homers are the most Molina has hit in a season since hitting a career-high 22 in 2012.

On the mound: The rally bailed out starter Mike Leake, who gave up 11 hits and all five Royals runs in five innings … The win went to Matt Bowman, who pitched the sixth, before Zach Duke, Seung Hwan Oh and Tyler Lyons got through the seventh and eighth. Trevor Rosenthal pitched around a one-out single in the ninth to earn the save.

Key stat: Gyorko’s RBI was his 56th of the season, just three less than his total of 59 last season. The big difference this year, however, has been the number of RBIs which have come in other ways besides a home run. In 2016, Gyorko drove in only 14 runs which did not come on one of his 30 homers. So far this season, Gyorko has 20 RBIs on his 15 homers and 36 RBIs in other ways.

Worth noting:
The last time the Cardinals were two games above .500 was May 27 … Fowler hit cleanup for the first time since 2015 and 27th time in his career. He became the ninth player the Cardinals have used in that spot this season. They used eight players in that spot last year. He had a single and walked three times, including the intentional walk in the sixth … Stephen Piscotty, optioned to Memphis on Monday, is expected to join the Triple A team on Thursday.

Looking ahead:
The Cardinals will try to complete a sweep of the four-game “series” on Thursday. Lance Lynn will get the start against Jason Hammel in the 6:15 p.m. game.