PHOENIX (AP) — Nolan Arenado quickly fell behind against a hard-throwing pitcher with a knack for painting corners.
Instead of tensing up, the seven-time All-Star shortened up, found a pitch he could hit, and shot the ball through the right side of the infield.
Arenado hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning and finished with three RBIs, helping the St. Louis Cardinals stretch their winning streak to seven games with a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
“He knows when to take the shots and when to just take whatever is given to him,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “That’s a perfect example of taking what he’s given.”
Trailing 4-3, the Cardinals loaded the bases in the seventh after pinch-hitter Albert Pujols singled off Joe Mantiply (1-4) and Kevin Ginkel hit Paul Goldschmidt with a pitch. Arenado, who had a run-scoring single in the first inning, fell behind 1-2 against Ginkel, but lined a single to right-center to put St. Louis up 5-4.
Jake Woodford (2-0) allowed a hit in 1 1/3 innings and Giovanny Gallegos worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save to complete the NL Central-leading Cardinals’ seventh sweep this season.
Lars Nootbaar hit his first career leadoff homer and Tommy Edman added a run-scoring single in the eighth inning for St. Louis’ 16th win in 19 games.
“The guys are just continuing to compete regardless of situation, regardless of score, and that’s what you want at this time of the year,” Marmol said.
Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly had been sharp for nearly two months, allowing two runs or less in eight of nine starts.
The veteran right-hander was in trouble almost from the first pitch against St. Louis, giving up Nootbaar’s leadoff homer and Arenado’s run-scoring single. Another run came in when Nolan Gorman hit into a double play, matching the runs Kelly allowed his previous two starts combined.
“Kelly did a nice job,” Marmol said. “Their starter was good and for us to come out the way we did, put together at-bats with the homer and then the singles. That was that was a really good first inning.”
Kelly got a boost from an inning-ending double play in the second and fell into a rhythm after that. He worked around two baserunners twice, allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in six innings.
Marmol was ejected in the third inning after saying something to plate umpire C.B. Buckner about a called strike.
With one out in the inning, Buckner called a strike on a pitch to Arenado that appeared to be well inside. Buckner didn’t hesitate in tossing Marmol, ripping off his mask to toss him out of the game.
Marmol came out of the dugout and got in Buckner’s face while yelling before being pushed back by third base umpire Jeff Nelson.
“There were a couple calls there with (starter José) Quintana that flipped at-bats that didn’t go our way and then the one on Nolan,” Marmol said. “Clear ball, so went out there and got ejected.”
Quintana had been superb since an Aug. 1 trade from Pittsburgh, allowing three earned runs in 17 innings over three starts.
The left-hander had his first clunker against Arizona.
Struggling with his command, allowed four runs — two earned — on seven hits and walked three in 2 2/3 innings.
“It was a tough day for me,” Quintana said. “The issue was attacking the zone and getting ahead in the count. That’s usually my plan and I got into a little trouble, got into some jams.”
Arizona recalled RHP Luis Frias from Triple-A Reno and optioned RHP Edwin Uceta to the Aces.
Frias went 0-1 with a 13.50 in four games with Arizona earlier this season, Uceta had a 5.82 ERA in 20 games with the Diamondbacks.
Cardinals: Andrew Knizner went down in pain after being hit on the glove hand by Stone Garrett’s bat on the catcher’s interference call. Knizner was looked at by the Cardinals trainer for several minutes, but remained in the game. … RHP Jack Flaherty (strained right shoulder) made his third rehab start with Double-A Springfield on Sunday and could make one more before rejoining the Cardinals.
Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (6-3, 3.29 ERA) is 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA since being traded from the Yankees headed into Monday’s start against the Cubs.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 3.99) is looking for his first win since May 13 when Arizona kicks off a two-game series at Kansas City on Tuesday.
By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer