The Associated PressMIAMI (AP) — Matt Carpenter leaped into a high-five with Yadier Molina at home plate, trotted down the dugout steps and skipped from one end of the bench to the other, slapping hands with teammates lined up on both sides of him.
It was a routine polished by practice.
The NL home run leader hit a tiebreaking homer for the second consecutive night Wednesday, and the St. Louis Cardinals won their fourth series in a row by beating Miami 7-1.
Carpenter put St. Louis ahead with a home run leading off the sixth inning, his 31st. His eighth-inning homer Tuesday helped beat Miami 3-2, and he has homered in five of the past six games, to the delight of his teammates.
“Obviously they’re fired up and love it, and we’re winning,” Carpenter said. “We’ve played really well the last few series, so there’s a lot of excitement and energy in the clubhouse every day.”
Said shortstop Paul DeJong: “If Carp doesn’t hit a home run, I don’t know if we could win.”
Carpenter, who has raised his average from .140 on May 15 to .281, has resisted analyzing the remarkable turnaround.
“There’s really not a lot of thought,” he said. “That’s kind of the beauty of this stretch I’m in. It has been a learning experience for me, because when you’re struggling there’s so much thought. I just go up there, I’m looking for a pitch to hit, and I hit it and jog around the bases.”
John Gant (4-4) pitched six innings and allowed one run, which scored in part because of a defensive lapse. He and three relievers combined to retire 21 batters in a row.
Molina hit his 15th homer in the first and doubled home two runs in the ninth. The double came after Carpenter was intentionally walked for the 11th time this year.
“It’s an option for them,” Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. “We like Matt hitting, and we have no problem with Yadi hitting.”
Marcell Ozuna doubled home a run in the sixth and went 6-for-11 in the series against his former team. The Cardinals improved to 13-9 under Shildt.
Trevor Richards (3-7) allowed three runs in 5⅔ innings for the last-place Marlins, who have lost eight of their past nine games.