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Pujols returns to Busch and the Cardinals gain on the wild card

Albert Pujols via Robert Hanashiro-USA Today

Albert Pujols returned to Busch Stadium wearing the Dodger blue sporting the number 55. In a pivotal week Where we had 4 games vs. The Wild card leader, the (Dodgers) and 3 games vs. the Reds,

Before Monday's games, the race for the second Wild card slot looked like this.

San Diego 73-64 ---

Cincinnati 73-65 0.5 GB

Philadelphia 70-66 2.5 GB

St. Louis 69-66 3.0 GB

New York 69-68 5.0 GB

Game 1 September 6, vs. Loa Angeles (NL) Dodgers 5 - Cardinals 1

Miles Mikolas Had issues at the start then settled in. Cardinal hitters could not mount much of an attack vs. Max Sherzer.

Kodi Whitley via Fox sports

Mikolas's stat line seems unimpressive.

5IP, 5H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 3SO Gave up four runs in the first and one run in the third, but no runs in the second, fourth, and fifth. He would retire the last seven batters he faced.

3 relievers combined to shut down the Dodger offense

Andrew Miller 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1SO

Kodi Whitley 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1SO

Daniel Ponce deLeone 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1SO

While most Cardinal hitters could not seem to figure out Sherzer, Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman seemed to have little trouble with the 37-year-old Dodger veteran. Together they went 5-8 with a double and a run scored.

Paul Goldschmidt via Jeff Roberson- AP

The Dodgers started with three straight hits to lead off the game. The third one by Mookie Betts was an RBI single.

Justin Turner would add an RBI on a double play.

After a walk, Chris Taylor would crack a two-run homer.

In the third, Kyle Seager would single home Betts, who was on second base due to a throwing error by Andrew Knizner.

A passed ball would allow Edman to score from third, giving the Cardinals their only run.

The loss started the week 0-1 for St Louis and 69-67 overall.

The relief staff -The Dodgers never reached base after the third inning!

Goldschmidt - Has 10 games of three or more hits this year. It was also his 40th multi-hit game.

Edman - His 37th double of the year. ONE behind another Tommy, Tommy Herr, on the all-time single-season doubles list for Cardinal second basemen. The All-time leader is Matt Carpenter with 55.

Game 2 September 7, vs. Los Angeles(NL) Dodgers 7 - Cardinals 2

The Dodgers would use 9 different pitchers and pound out 11 hits against St Louis. The Cardinals did not mount much of a counterattack.

J A Happ via Joe Puetz -AP

J A Happ would surrender four runs on seven hits, no walks, and three strikeouts.

Andrew Miller would allow a run in the fifth.

Kodi Whitley and Daniel Ponce DeLeon would hold the Dodgers at bay for the seventh and most of the eighth. Kwang Hyun Kim would finish the eighth but give up two runs in the ninth.

Tyler O'Neill would go 3 -3 with a walk and a run scored. Nolan Arenado would drive in the two Cardinal runs.

Tyler O'Neill via Jeff Cury - Getty images

The visitors got on the board first with what everyone came to see an Albert Pujols home run.

The Cardinals would answer with a run on a sacrifice fly by Arenado.

In the third, the Cardinals would take the lead 2-1 on an Arenado single.

After that, it was all Los Angeles.

In the fourth, the Dodgers would tie the game on a Steven Sousa single. Then take the lead on a Cody Bellinger ground out. Justin Turner would hit a solo shot in the fifth inning. Will Smith would hit a solo shot in the sixth, and Justin Turner would homer again in the ninth with a man aboard for the final tally of 7-2. The loss puts the Cards at 0-2 and 69-68 overall.

Whitley - Now has 6 consecutive innings of scoreless baseball covering 5 games.

Arenado - Now has 90 RBIs The last Cardinal to have 90 RBIs was Matt Holiday in 2014. ( the previous Cardinal with 100 RBIs was Matt Holliday 2012 with 102)

O'Neill - Has 29 multi-hit games.

Game 3 September 8, vs. Los Angeles Cardinals 5 - Dodgers 4

Adam Wainwright once again strapped on his cape and set out to put an end to a four-game skid.

Wainwright would pitch into the ninth, scattering four runs on seven hits. He issued no walks and struck out four. Giovanny Gallegos would come in and give up a couple of hits but ultimately nail down the save. The win was Wainwright 16th, and the save was Gio's fifth.

After the game, Wainwright had this to say about his performance. ''I thought today was a must-win game. I just felt we had to have it. We've got to get a split from them, in my opinion.''

Tyler O'Neill and Molina would both go yard for St Louis to give Wainwright the offensive support.

Yadier Molina via Jeff Roberson-AP

In the first inning, Cory Sager would put LA on the board with an RBI double.

The redbirds would answer when Nolan Arenado grounded out to drive in a run, and Molina would take Dodger starter Mitch White deep to the left for a two-run shot, putting the Cardinals up 3-1. Edmundo Sosa would single in the fourth to add to the Cardinals lead, making it 4-1. Max Muncy would cut into the redbird lead with a solo shot in the sixth, making it 4-2. In the eighth, the Cards would get that run back on an O'Neill solo shot. It would prove to be the game-winner.

In the ninth, Seager would single home his second RBI off of Wainwright with one out. Gallegos would come in and give up a sac fly to Will Smith, making the score 5-4 St Louis. He would then get Chris Taylor to strike out.

The win puts the Cardinals at 2-1 for the week, stops the four-game losing streak, and puts the Cards at a 70-68 mark overall.

Wainwright - I his last seven appearances 51 2/3IP, he is 6-1 with a 1.57ERA and a 0.830WHIP 39 Strikeouts and 8 walks.

Molina - In his last 5 games, .278/.381/.667 with 2HRs and 6RBIs

O'Neill - Since Sept 1st is hitting .357/.438/.786 with 3HRs 5RBIs

Game 4 September 9 vs. Los Angeles(NL), Cardinals 2 - Dodgers 1

This game was a battle of the bullpens as both starters were gone by the fourth inning. With each side allowing only one base runner after the fifth inning.

Alex Reyes via Jim Rossel - USA Today.

Jake Woodford started the game for St Louis. He pitched four innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks, and struck out three. A long third inning with some deep counts elevated his pitch, relieved in the fifth.

Alex Reyes would pitch two innings giving up no runs, one hit, and he struck out two.

He was followed to the hill by TJ McFarland for an inning and 1/3. Luis Garcia for two-thirds of an inning and Giovanny Gallegos for an inning. The only base runner allowed was a walk to Albert Pujols by McFarland. Reyes would get the win his sixth and Gallegos the save his sixth.

As mentioned, the Dodger pitchers kept things tight as well. The Cardinals only managed five hits and were allowed three walks.

Tyler O'Neill would have a home run, and Andrew Knizner would have two hits and an RBI.

Knizner would open the scoring in the second with an RBI double.

The Dodgers would answer in the third on a Trea Turner Single.

O'Neill's solo shot to the left would put the Cardinals on top to stay. After the fifth inning, the only hit given up by either side was a seventh-inning single by Knizner. TJ McFarland issued the only walk after the fifth inning.

The Win evened the Cardinals record for the week at 2-2 and 71-68 overall.

Gallegos- Since August, he has been 5-6 in saves opportunities. He has 4 saves in his last 5 appearances.

Garcia - Since July 28th, he has pitched 22 innings with NO earned runs. He has had 5 inherited runners. Only 1 has scored.

O'Neill - Now has 25HR and 56RBIs.

Game 5 September 10, vs. Cincinnati Reds 4 - Cardinals 2

A pivotal series against the direct competition for the Wild Card with a team that is directly in front of us.

The first game didn't go as planned, At least at the end of the game.

Jon Lester via fansided

Jon Lester threw seven strong innings giving up two runs on three hits, walking four, and striking out two.

Luis Garcia held serve in the eighth, but TJ McFarland gave up two runs in the ninth, giving Cincy the win. It was the first time since July 19 that Lester went seven complete innings.

Not all can be blamed on late-inning relief as cardinal hitters had issues with Tyler Mahle and the Reds relief corps. The Redbirds could only manage five hits for the entire game.

Yadier Molina via Jeff King-AP

Yadier Molina was, for all practical purposes was the Cardinal offense. Going 2-4 with 2 RBIs and an HR. The Reds got on the board first on a Eugenio Suarez Solo home run.

In the fourth, they would add to that on a Joey Votto Solo home run.

Molina would tie things up 2-2 with a two-run shot in the fourth. It would stay that way until the ninth. After one out Jose Barrero would double home a run, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead. A fielder's choice by Delino Deshields gave the Reds an extra run they would not need.

The Loss puts the Cards at 2-3 for the week and 71-69 overall.

Molina - Second straight game with two or more hits and second straight game with a home run.

Garcia - Zero earned runs in 23 innings with 3 BB and 21 strikeouts.

Lester - longest outing since joining the Cardinals.

Game 6 September 11, vs. Cincinnati, Cardinals 6 - Reds 4

The Cardinals played come from behind baseball, after spotting the Reds 4 runs in the third inning. The Cardinals would pound out 11 hits and get outstanding relief work from the big three To pull this one out.

Genesis Cabrera via Jeff Cury-USA today

Miles Mikolas pitched well in the first two innings facing a minimum of 6 batters. In the third, however, the Reds were able to score 4 runs after 2 were out.

He would go 5IP, 6H, 4R, 1BB, 1SO. He would give way to Genesis Cabrera, who would slam the door on the Reds for two innings—not allowing a baserunner. While Striking out one.

Alex Reyes then took the eighth and was almost as stingy, but he would walk one and strike out one in the inning and earn the win(his 7th) Giovanny Gallegos would pitch the ninth, allowing no base runners striking out two, making his 7th save.

Nolan Arenado would homer, and Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, and Paul DeJong had 2 hits. To lead the Cardinal offense.

Nolan Arenado via Jeff Roberson- AP

The Reds broke out on top in the third inning. Starting with a two-out and one on a home run by Jonathan India.

Two batters later, Nick Castellanos hit a two-run shot for good measure. To give the Reds the early 4-0 lead.,

The Cards came back in the third on a DeJong home run. Followed two batters later by a Tommy Edman RBI single, making the score 4-2 Padres.

In the sixth, the Redbirds would tie the game on an Arenado RBI triple followed by a Carlson RBI double.

In the eighth, with a runner on, Arenado hit his 30th home run of the season, putting the birds up for good 6-4.

The Loss evens out the weekly record at 3-3 and the overall record to 72-69

Arenado - Now has 30HRs 6 RBIs shy of 100 for the season.

O'Neill - In his last 14 games, he is hitting .308/.379/.635 4 HRs 8RBIs

Gallegos - 3 straight saves in his previous 3 games.

Game 7 Sept 12 vs. Cincinnati, Cardinals 2 - Reds 0

Five Cardinals pitchers combined for a five-hit shutout of the Cincinnati Reds, earning J A Happ his fourth win as a Cardinal. Also, Giovanny Gallegos his eighth save.

Giovanny Gallegos via Brad Mills-USA Today

Happ would draw the start in this one. And go 5 1/3 innings give up only two hits and one walk while striking out four.

Luis Garcia pitched an inning giving up one hit and striking out two.

T J McFarland pitched 2/3 of an inning of shutout baseball.

Genesis Cabrera pitched one inning surrendering one hit and striking out two.

Then it was Giovanny Gallegos's turn. He would pitch the ninth. He would get the first two out then give up a double before striking Max Schrock on three pitches.

Nolan Arenado via Eric Espada -getty images

While the Cardinal pitchers allowed 5 hits, the Reds pitchers Sonny Gray (seven innings) Tony Santillan (one inning) only allowed three hits. Two of those hits would do the Reds in. A Tyler O'Neill single and Nolan Arenado's 31st home run in the first inning would end up being the only hits the Cardinals would need.

The win put the Cardinals at 4-3 for the week and 73-69 overall.

Arenado - Is now 4 RBIs from 100

Gallegos - Now has 4 straight saves.

Garcia - Has now thrown 24 consecutive innings without an earned run.

Even with the marginally over .500 record, they managed to gain ground due to the poor play of the other contenders. The Padres went 1-4, The Reds (thanks partly to St Louis) went 2-4, Philadelphia went 2-5, and the Mets 3-4. The Cardinals gained 2 full games on the wild card.

Cincinnati 75-69 --GB

San Diego 74-68 1.0GB

St. Louis 73-69 1.0GB

Philadelphia 72-71 2.5GB

New York 72-72 3.0GB

Up next are games that will have a direct effect on the playoff future of St Louis.

New York Mets

@ New York Mets

September 13 Adam Wainwright 15-7 vs. Rich Hill 6-6

September 14 Jake Woodford 2-3 vs. Marcus Stroman 9-12

September 15 Jon Lester 5-6 vs Tylor Megill 3-4

San Diego Padres

At home

September 17 Miles Mikolas 0-2 vs Vince Velasquez 2-6

September 18 Adam Wainwright 15-7 vs. Yu Darvish 8-10

September 19 J A Happ 4-2 vs. Jake Arrieta 5-13

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