Braves avoid sweep with 3-2 victory over Cardinals
ST. LOUIS (AP) More than four years after Adonis Garcia defected from Cuba, he hit his first major league home run.
His timing could not have been much better for the Atlanta Braves.
Garcia broke a 2-2 tie when he led off the sixth inning by homering on a 1-0 fastball from Michael Wacha that carried the Braves to a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.
''I accomplished my dream by getting to the big leagues,'' Garcia said through an interpreter. ''I'm twice as happy now that I hit my home run and was able to help the team win.''
''The ball was up in the zone and he put a good swing on it,'' Wacha said.
A 30-year-old who was released this spring after three years in the New York Yankees' organization, Garcia was promoted Friday when Atlanta traded Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson to the New York Mets. He went 1 for 3 Saturday and added his biggest hit yet to help the Braves avoid a three-game sweep.
''I like the at-bats he's given us,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''He's made some nice plays at third base so that's a nice addition. We've just got to find a way to keep him in the lineup somehow.''
Another Braves rookie, right-hander Matt Wisler (5-1), allowed seven hits and walked three in seven innings, his longest outing since beating the Mets in his debut last month. Wisler struck out only two but was able to take advantage of a Cardinals' lineup that rested regulars Yadier Molina, Jhonny Peralta and Mark Reynolds.
''I was a little nervous,'' Wisler said. ''I mean it's the best team in baseball. They've got a very good lineup, very talented. I had good command of my fastball and my slider was a good pitch as well.''
The Braves took advantage of Wacha's wildness to take a 2-0 lead in the second. Ryan Lavarnway grounded a double into the left-field corner to score Eury Perez, who had worked a one-out walk after falling behind 0-2 in the count. Following a two-out walk to Jace Peterson, Cameron Maybin singled on an 0-2 changeup to drive in Lavarnway. Wacha needed 51 pitches to get through the first two innings.
The Cardinals evened the score with runs in the fourth and fifth. Rookie Stephen Piscotty, in his first start at home, drove in the first St. Louis run with a single that scored Jason Heyward. Heyward, scoring for the first time against his former team, initially was ruled out but the call was overturned following a 5-minute-8-second review that showed he slid in ahead of Lavarnway's tag.
Matt Holliday's double into the right-field corner scored Kolten Wong, who also had doubled, to tie the game in the fifth and set the stage for Garcia's heroics.
Braves cleanup hitter Freddie Freeman went 1 for 3 and walked in his return to the lineup. Out since June 17 with a right wrist injury, Freeman pinch-hit Saturday after he arrived during the game following a one-game rehab stint in Florida. Freeman said after got to the visitors' clubhouse, he hopped in a hot tub, then warmed up on a stationary bicycle before making his way to the dugout.
Cardinals: CF Randal Grichuk left after the sixth inning with what manager Mike Matheny called a minor groin injury. Grichuk suffered the injury when he was running the bases after singling in the fourth inning.
Braves: LHP Alex Wood (7-6, 3.78 ERA) will face RHP Kevin Gausman (1-2, 5.18) in the opener of a three-game series as Atlanta continues a three-stop trip. The Braves are not scheduled off until Aug. 10.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (7-5, 2.80) will make his first start this season against Cincinnati when he opposes rookie RHP Raisel Iglesias (1-2, 5.45). The division rivals have not met since April 19.