By The Sports Xchange
ST. LOUIS — Jaime Garcia did it all on a night where the St. Louis Cardinals needed him to do it all.
Garcia fired a three-hitter over eight shutout innings and fanned 11 on Friday night while knocking in the only run in his 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium.
Coming off an 11-0 loss Saturday night in Miami in which he gave up four runs in the game’s first five batters and allowed six runs in only 3 1/3 innings while pitching on just three days’ rest, Garcia (8-8) more than made amends.
With five days of rest before this outing, Garcia carved up Atlanta, fanning Freddie Freeman four times, Jeff Francoeur on three occasions and Matt Kemp twice. The Braves (39-70) got just two runners into scoring position against him.
Closer Seung Hwan Oh worked a clean ninth inning for his ninth save as St. Louis (58-51) took a half-game lead over Miami for the National League’s second wild-card spot, pending the outcome of the Marlins’ game in Colorado.
Joel De La Cruz (0-4) took the loss despite allowing only two hits and a run in 5 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out two.
The Cardinals won despite managing only two hits off four Braves pitchers and turning seven walks into just one run.
Garcia pulled a two-out grounder past second baseman Gordon Beckham into right field for an RBI single in the second inning that scored Matt Holliday from second.
Holliday, dropped into the fifth spot in the order with his average down to .237, reached on a leadoff walk. Jeremy Hazelbaker drew a two-out walk, giving Garcia a chance to help his cause.
Atlanta’s best scoring chance against Garcia came in the fourth when Ender Inciarte walked and Beckham singled him to third with no outs. But Garcia whiffed Freeman and Kemp, then induced a fielder’s choice bouncer from Adonis Garcia.
NOTES: St. Louis activated All-Star Matt Carpenter (right oblique strain) from the 15-day disabled list Friday and inserted him into his normal leadoff spot, playing second base. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. The team optioned LHP Dean Kiekhefer to Triple-A Memphis to make room for him. … Atlanta still hasn’t determined its starting pitcher for Saturday night. It was planning to recall RHP Aaron Blair from Triple-A Gwinnett, but he was injured Thursday. … Cardinals RHP Jordan Walden (right shoulder strain) said his arm is feeling much better and is shooting for a September comeback. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since last April.