ST. LOUIS (AP) — Spencer Strider pitched six strong innings and William Contreras hit a three-run double as the streaking Atlanta Braves defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 11-4 on Friday night.
Atlanta has won four straight, seven of eight and 15 of its last 17 games. The defending World Series champions remained two games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets, who beat Colorado.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said his team is finding different ways to win, and scoring 11 runs without a homer was yet another.
“That’s really encouraging that we can bunch some hits together and score some runs without using the long ball,” he said.
St. Louis has lost three of five but still holds a six-game lead in the NL Central over Milwaukee, which lost at home to the Chicago Cubs.
Strider (8-4) scattered six hits and struck out seven — including his first five outs. The rookie allowed one run and issued one walk.
He wanted to go deeper in the game and wasn’t thrilled with his performance. But in the end, Strider knew he did his job.
“To get six innings here and limit them to one run is good,” he said. “That put us in a position to win and that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Contreras, who had his first career four-hit game, faced reliever Andre Pallante with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. He sent an 0-1 pitch to the right-center wall to score Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Travis d’Arnaud for a 5-1 lead.
That closed the book on Cardinals starter José Quintana (4-6), who gave up four runs — two earned — and seven hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked two.
The Braves scored three in the eighth on three singles and a hit by pitch. They tacked on three more in the ninth using two doubles and two singles.
Contreras singled and scored in both innings.
“Pitchers are making adjustments to me and so I have to make adjustments as well,” he said through a translator. “You have to keep pushing yourself to make adjustments to keep having results.”
A Cardinals error helped the Braves score their first two runs in the fourth inning. Second baseman Nolan Gorman fielded Olson’s grounder cleanly but threw wide of second base trying to start a double play. The ball settled in foul territory in left field, allowing Dansby Swanson to score from first and Olson to reach second. A single by d’Arnaud scored Olson.
Tyler O’Neill hit his ninth homer of the year in the ninth, a two-run shot, to pull the Cardinals to 11-3. St. Louis got another run after Brendan Donovan’s liner ricocheted off reliever Jackson Stephens’ head. Stephens never went down and left the field under his own power after being checked by the Atlanta training staff.
“He’s aware and everything but he’s going to have to go to the hospital and get some tests,” Snitker said. “It’s always scary when you see somebody get hit in the head, the face. That’s probably the most sickening thing you can witness in a game.”
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina moved into third place with 2,092 career starts at the position, passing Bob Boone.
Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley returned after a week on paternity leave, including a stint on the restricted list after he extended his absence because his child needed some extra tests. … 3B Nolan Arenado went on the paternity list after missing Thursday’s game at the Chicago Cubs to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.
St. Louis optioned LHP Packy Naughton to Triple-A Memphis and recalled INF/OF Juan Yepez, who had been out since July 15 with a strained forearm.
Braves: Snitker said 2B Ozzie Albies is close to coming off the 60-day injured list. Out since mid-June with a broken left foot, Albies joined the club in St. Louis and worked out with the rest of the team.
Cardinals: LHP Steven Matz will throw a bullpen Saturday as he tries to return from a torn MCL in his left knee sustained in mid-June. St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol expects Matz, a starter, back before the end of the season and would use him out of the bullpen.
Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (6-5, 3.99 ERA) is coming off two consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts, against the New York Mets and Houston Astros. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in four of his past six games.
Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (7-3, 3.08) threw his first career shutout in his last outing, a 1-0 win at the Chicago Cubs. Since arriving from the New York Yankees in a trade for OF Harrison Bader on Aug. 2, Montgomery is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA.
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