Game Report: Cardinals 6, Rays 4

By Rob Rains

For most of Saturday night, it appeared the Cardinals were going to play just well enough to lose again.

With one swing of the bat, Tommy Pham kept that from happening.

Pham hit the first walkoff homer of his career in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cardinals the win over the Rays at Busch Stadium and complete a comeback from a 3-0 deficit.

The Cardinals had tied the game with two runs in the eighth, the tying run coming on a RBI single by Kolten Wong. The team might have lost Jedd Gyorko for a while on the play, however, when he injured his hamstring while running the bases and immediately took himself out of the game.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Pham’s homer came on a 2-2 pitch and followed an infield single by Matt Carpenter leading off the inning. It was his 17th homer of the season but only his fourth at home … Yadier Molina drove in two runs with a double in the sixth, which Corey Dickerson appeared to lose in the lights in left, and a single in the eighth … The Rays had limited the Cardinals to just four hits going to the eighth inning, when Pham opened the inning with his second walk. They got four consecutive singles with two outs but left the bases loaded when Greg Garcia flew out to left.

On the mound: Mike Leake pitched better than he had in recent starts but was hurt by three home runs, the second time this season and sixth time in his career he allowed three homers in a game … Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer in the first – making him 8-of-10 with three homers off Leake – and Dickerson and Adeiny Hechavarria later added solo homers … Leake pitched seven innings for only the second time in his 10 starts since July 5 but left with the Cardinals trailing 4-2 … John Brebbia worked a 1-2-3 eighth before Tyler Lyons retired the side in order in the ninth, extending his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 16 2/3 in which he has allowed only three hits.

Key stat:
Leake’s ERA for August dropped from 10.31 coming into the game to 8.88 (25 earned runs in 25 1/3 innings). As a group, Cardinals’ starters in August now have an ERA of 5.16 (74 earned runs in 129 innings) over 24 games and have averaged just 5 1/3 innings per start.

Worth noting: It was Dexter Fowler’s turn to be sent home before the game on Saturday night because he was sick … Kevin Siegrist started for Palm Beach on Saturday night as part of his rehab assignment and pitched one scoreless inning, giving up a single …. Pitching prospect Jordan Hicks was promoted from Palm Beach to Springfield but is expected to remain in the bullpen as a way to control his number of innings … A report in a newspaper in Venezuela on Saturday said the Cardinals had joined the Braves and Giants in denying teams in the winter league in that country from contacting players in the organization to try to sign them.

Looking ahead: The series will conclude with a 1:15 p.m. game on Sunday that will match Lance Lynn against the Rays’ best starter, Chris Archer.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

-----------'s Mike Reeves talked to Tommy Pham after the game as he was about to leave to watch the big Mayweather-McGregor fight: