PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cristopher Sanchez shrugged off an early homer to pitch six strong innings, Alec Bohm and Kyle Schwarber homered and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 on Friday night.
Sanchez (2-3) and three relievers retired the final 21 St. Louis hitters. Nine of those outs came on strikeouts.
Garrett Stubbs added an RBI double for the Phillies (70-58), who remained atop the National League wild-card standings while gaining ground on second-place Chicago — increasing that margin to three games.
Paul Goldschmidt hit his 21st homer of the season in the first inning for St. Louis’ only runs of the night.
Third baseman Nolan Arenado left in the seventh inning with what the club described as lower-back tightness. He is listed as day-to-day. “He’s been battling it for weeks now and he refuses to come out of any game or come out of the lineup,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “He preps for every game and he’s been able to play through it. It started to lock up a little bit there and I didn’t want to push through it.”
Sanchez has helped solidify a gaping hole in the last spot in the starting rotation. Over his last 10 starts since June 30, Sanchez has gone at least six innings on six occasions. His ERA in those 10 starts has been 3.16.
“His numbers second and third time through are better than the first time through,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “He finds his changeup and throws it until he gets it. He gets a lot of soft contact on it.”
After surrendering the two-run homer to Goldschmidt in the first inning, Sanchez settled into a consistent groove. After Tyler O’Neill’s leadoff double in the third inning, Sanchez finished his night by retiring 12 straight. Jose Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti and Jeff Hoffman got the final nine outs in order.
“They were looking for the sinker, so I made the adjustment and I was able to stay focused on the game,” Sanchez said.
After struggling with hard contact in the first inning thanks to pitches high in the zone, Sanchez spent most of the time down in the zone with his changeup.
“He started to pitch down in the zone and used the changeup off of it,” Marmol said. “He mixed it up well.”
Stubbs — the backup to heavily used catcher J.T. Realmuto — entered the day with just five RBIs in just 81 at-bats for the season. But with two on and two out in the second, he squibbed an opposite-field double just inside the third base bag and past Arenado’s outstretch glove to tie it. Schwarber followed with a double just inside the right-field foul line off Miles Mikolas (6-10) that gave Philadelphia a lead it would never relinquish.
“There’s two strikes so I was just trying to hit the ball,” Stubbs said. “It was awesome to come up in that situation and tie the game. And then being able to be on second for Kyle Schwarber is pretty awesome.”
Bohm slugged his career-high 14th homer off Mikolas in the sixth. Schwarber added his 35th of the year in the seventh off reliever Andrew Suarez.
Bryce Harper had two hits and scored two runs for Philadelphia. Brandon Marsh had two and scored a run.
Cardinals: Re-instated 2B Nolan Gorman from the 10-day injured list. Gorman had been out since Aug. 12 because of a lower back strain. Gorman hit .241 with 24 homers and 64 RBIs for the Cardinals. He was not in the original starting lineup for Friday night’s game against Philadelphia’s lefthanded starter, Cristopher Sanchez. Gorman would enter the game in the seventh inning as a substitute for Arenado To make room for Gorman, SS Jose Fermin was optioned to Memphis (AAA).
Phillies: LHP Ranger Suarez (hamstring) threw a bullpen session on Friday afternoon — his first since being placed on the injured list on Aug. 19. If all went well, manager Rob Thomson indicated that Suarez would participate in workouts on Monday for fielding around the mound. … Harper (back spasms) was the designated hitter again on Friday night. Over the course of the last 13 games, Harper has played first base only three times — and hasn’t taken the field in any of Philadelphia’s last four games. “It’s just precautionary,” Thomson said.