ATLANTA (AP) — When the St. Louis Cardinals score a couple of runs, Miles Mikolas has been unbeatable this season
He’s 16-0 when getting at least two runs of support, a big asset for the Cardinals as they stay in the postseason hunt.
“I’ve been fortunate enough that when I’ve pitched, we’ve had great offense and we’ve put up runs and played great defense and everything has just come together,” Mikolas said. “It’s been a great season.”
Kolten Wong hit the first of four St. Louis homers, Mikolas won his third straight start and the Cardinals beat the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves 11-6 on Monday night to give their playoff push another boost.
St. Louis has 35 victories since the All-Star break, most in the National League, and has won two straight after losing four in a row. The Cardinals, who also got homers from Paul DeJong, Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina, are a half-game ahead of Colorado for the second NL wild card.
The Braves took a third consecutive loss after winning a season-best six straight games. They remained 6½ games up in the division following Philadelphia’s loss to the Mets, which reduced Atlanta’s magic number to seven as the Braves try to clinch their first NL East title in five years.
Mike Foltynewicz (11-10) walked three of the first five batters he faced — one intentionally — and hit Yadier Molina with a pitch before Wong’s opposite-field, two-run single gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead in the first.
Atlanta pitchers have issued 32 walks over the last four games, all at home, where they are 38-37 and have dropped 13 of their last 17.
“It just goes down to early on — the walks, the walks, the walks — they all score,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s the big thing.”
Mikolas (16-4) allowed four hits, two runs and one walk while striking out six in five innings. The right-hander, who leads the NL in fewest walks per nine innings, improved to 9-0 in 15 road starts.
“They fouled off some good pitches, but we played great defense, and I was able to get out of the jams when I was in a sticky situation,” he said.
After Freddie Freeman’s 22nd homer made it a one-run game in the third, the Cardinals went up 4-2 in the fourth on Wong’s ninth homer and 6-2 in the fifth on DeJong’s 18th homer and Marcell Ozuna’s RBI double. St. Louis improved to an NL-best 40-19 when hitting a road homer.
Foltynewicz allowed five hits, six runs and four walks with two strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Coming off a complete-game victory at San Francisco, Foltynewicz had gone 4-2 with a 1.84 ERA in his last eight starts, but he couldn’t overcome a lack of control.
Nick Markakis drove in a run with his NL-leading 42nd double, coming against Dakota Hudson in the seventh, to pull the Braves to 6-5. But then Jesse Biddle gave up a pair of two-out walks in the eighth, and Bader, a defensive replacement in the seventh, hit a three-run homer to put St. Louis up 9-5.
The Braves had a chance to do more damage in the bottom of the inning against Carlos Martinez after Ronald Acuna Jr.’s RBI single cut the lead to 9-6, but Martinez struck out Freeman with the bases loaded.
Freeman slammed his bat down in disgust.
“Big moment, obviously, bases loaded and a three-run game at that moment,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He made a money pitch.”
Molina hit his 18th homer, a two-run shot off Arodys Vizcaino, in the ninth.
Cardinals CF Yairo Munoz made two errors in the sixth that let Atlanta cut the lead to 6-4. He dropped the ball after picking up Ender Inciarte’s single, allowing Inciarte to advance to second and Johan Camargo to third. Munoz made a throwing error to third on Tyler Flowers’ single, allowing both runners to score.
Cardinals: Shildt said RHP Bud Norris wasn’t available because of irritated skin on his right middle finger. Norris left Sunday night’s win over the Dodgers after walking the only batter he faced.
Braves: Camargo, the team’s everyday third baseman, went 1 for 5 in his return to the lineup after missing the past four games with left groin tightness.
Cardinals: LHP Austin Gomber (5-1, 3.78 ERA) will make his first career start against Atlanta on Tuesday. Gomber allowed seven runs and nine hits in his last start, lasting three innings in a 9-7 loss to the Dodgers.
Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 3.01 ERA) seeks his first victory since Aug. 3, a span of eight starts in which he’s 1-1 with a 3.02 ERA.
By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press