Molina's clutch triple rallies Cardinals past White Sox 3-2
CHICAGO (AP) With a solid pitching staff and deep lineup, the St. Louis Cardinals can beat you in a variety of ways. This time, it was a rare triple for their All-Star catcher.
Yadier Molina hit the bases-loaded triple off David Robertson with two out in the eighth inning, sending the Cardinals to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Randal Grichuk singled, Matt Holliday was hit by a pitch and Jason Heyward reached on catcher's interference before Molina drove a 2-2 pitch into the corner in right for his third hit of the game.
''Just a great at-bat in a big situation,'' manager Mike Matheny said. ''We talk about that a lot, that big hit, that's kind of the definition of what that looks like.''
Molina is batting .429 (9 for 21) in his last four games. It was the first triple for the veteran catcher since May 22, 2011, and No. 4 for his career.
''I think it was a cutter, right on the corner away. I was looking for something middle, middle away,'' Molina said. ''It was a good pitch. I mean, I just got lucky to put the bat on the ball and got lucky to find a hole.''
Miguel Socolovich (4-1) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win. Kevin Siegrist struck out Adam LaRoche with runners on the corners for the final out in the eighth, and Trevor Rosenthal finished for his 29th save in 31 chances.
St. Louis (60-34) has won four of five heading into a season-long 11-game homestand beginning on Thursday night against Kansas City.
''We know what to do,'' said Lance Lynn, who pitched six solid innings. ''You just got to keep grinding out at-bats, making pitches, and trying to make sure that they don't have a huge inning. We've got guys who know how to do that, and it makes it fun around here.''
It was another heartbreaking loss for the last-place White Sox (42-50), who have dropped four straight and six of seven. Zach Duke (3-4) got two outs in the eighth before he was replaced by Robertson, and Tyler Flowers struck out three times in addition to his costly miscue behind the plate that put Heyward on in the eighth.
''A triple from a catcher is a tough one to take,'' Robertson said. ''He's a good hitter. I don't know what else to say, I threw my best pitch and he got me.''
John Danks pitched 6 2/3 innings of five-hit ball for Chicago, extending his scoreless streak to 12 2/3 innings over his last two starts. The left-hander struck out five and walked none.
''It's tough when Johnny pitches like that,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ''He was fantastic tonight. Command, change of speeds, everything.''
Danks and Lynn were locked up in a scoreless duel before Chicago pushed across two runs in the sixth, helped by a miscue for Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta. With runners on first and second and no outs, Peralta juggled Tyler Saladino's potential double-play grounder as he tried to get the ball out of his glove, leaving no chance for second baseman Kolten Wong to get the speedy rookie at first.
Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera followed with consecutive RBI singles, lifting the White Sox to a 2-0 lead. Lynn then struck out Avisail Garcia and retired LaRoche on a fly ball to the warning track in center.
LaRoche went 0 for 4 and is batting .148 (8 for 54) with no homers and two RBIs in July.
''It's confusing, frustrating,'' LaRoche said before the game. ''I'll go and figure it out for an at-bat or two, and then it's gone, where in the past I've been able to figure it out and maybe hold onto it for a while.''
Cardinals: Holliday was the designated hitter for the second straight day. The All-Star was activated from the disabled list on Friday after being sidelined by a strained right quadriceps, but he hasn't been cleared to run full speed yet. ''I think it's getting closer and better every day,'' Matheny said. ''A couple of days here as a DH have certainly been helpful. We'll see when we get back home tomorrow. We'll see what the doctors are saying.'' ... RHP Mitch Harris (right groin strain) pitched a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday.
Cardinals: RHP John Lackey (8-5, 2.90 ERA) gets the ball Thursday night against Kansas City in the makeup of a June 14 rainout. RHP Chris Young (8-5, 3.03 ERA) starts for the Royals in a matchup of the teams with the best record in each league.
White Sox: RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-5, 4.08 ERA) makes what could be his final start for Chicago when the White Sox open a four-game series at Cleveland on Thursday night. Samardzija is a possible trade target ahead of the July 31 non-waiver deadline. RHP Trevor Bauer (8-6, 4.03 ERA) pitches for the Indians.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap