ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matt Olson homered and drove in three, and the Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on Wednesday.
Bryce Elder, who was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, pitched six strong innings, giving up two hits, striking out six and walking three. Jesse Chavez retired the only batter he faced to earn his first save of the season.
“A little rough early, some early game jitters,” Elder said. “Once I settled in, I felt good, kind of got in a groove, so I was pleased with it.”
The Braves won for the fifth time in their first six games, while St. Louis has lost three straight.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Cardinals rookie Jordan Walker hit his first career home run, driving a Michael Tonkin slider over the left field wall in the seventh. Walker, who added an RBI double in the ninth, has a six-game hitting streak to start his career.
“It was a pretty surreal feeling and it felt pretty good, but we were down,” Walker said of his first homer.
Walker’s parents were in attendance. He said the ball is going to his dad.
“We’ve been waiting for it,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one. Unfortunately, we were down so he didn’t get to enjoy it as much as he would’ve liked. But definitely a really good swing and we’ll see a lot more of that.”
Elder (1-0) got help from his defense in the fourth after Nolan Gorman’s pop fly dropped in short left field. Paul Goldschmidt tried to score from first but was easily thrown out at the plate by Eddie Rosario.
“It’s a big start for us especially where our bullpen was and all the guys we had down again,” Snitker said of Elder. “At the beginning he was finding himself I guess, and he got rolling.”
Olson’s 410-foot solo homer in the second was part of a three-hit day. He also had a pair of doubles in the first and fourth that scored Ronald Acuña Jr. twice.
Olson capped the day with a key unassisted double play to put a damper on a brewing Cardinals rally in the bottom of the ninth.
“I feel like we’re in a good spot,” Olson said. “It’s a really good team over there and to be able to sweep them, it felt like we were kind of clicking on all cylinders, really, between pitching, defense, offense and really just trying to ride that momentum.”
Austin Riley had an RBI single and Ozzie Albies added a sacrifice fly as part of a three-run first inning.
Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas (0-1) struggled in his second straight start to begin the season, allowing five runs on nine hits, as well as striking out six and walking one. His six innings was the longest for a St. Louis starter this season.
Cardinals centerfielder Dylan Carlson made a sliding catch to rob Albies of an extra base hit in the fifth inning. Carlson, who was playing Albies the other way, covered 85 feet in 4.7 seconds and had a 45% catch probability, according to Statcast.
Braves centerfielder Michael Harris II slammed into the wall while making a catch on a Goldschmidt drive in the eighth to deny the reigning MVP of a potential two-run homer.
“I didn’t think it would go as far as it did,” Harris said. “So, I kind of tried to run with the ball just in case I had to go up to the wall like I did and it all worked out and I timed it perfectly.”
Braves: LHP Max Fried (strained left hamstring) was placed on the 15-day on Tuesday injured list retroactive to April 1.
Cardinals: INF Paul DeJong (lower back pain) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment tomorrow at Single-A Palm Beach.
Braves: RHP Spencer Strider (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start Atlanta’s home opener Thursday night against the Padres and LHP Blake Snell (0-1, 6.23 ERA). It will be the first time Strider has faced San Diego in his career.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start St. Louis’ first road game of the season Friday night against the Milwaukee Brewers and RHP Brandon Woodruff (0-1, 1.50 ERA). Flaherty didn’t allow a hit to the Toronto Blue Jays in five innings on Saturday but walked seven and hit a batter.