Yadier Molina hit a bases-loaded double during a three-run first inning, Daniel Ponce de Leon and the St. Louis bullpen protected the lead, and the Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 4-1 Monday night.
Molina drove in two runs with his 382nd double, moving past Hall of Famer Johnny Bench for eighth place on the career list among catchers.
“Not surprised, he’s earned every bit the right to be among the company of the greats,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “It means a lot to him. It’s well deserved.”
Ponce de Leon (1-0) allowed one run and three hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out three, walked one and hit Starling Marte twice. He relied on fastballs to shut down Marlins hitters as only 10 of his 93 pitches were off-speed.
“You love to go out there with all your weapons and fire exactly as you own them,” Shildt said. “But some days it doesn’t happen and the art of pitching is making adjustments and of course, Yadi is back there.”
St. Louis got a perfect sixth from Jordan Hicks and two scoreless innings from Giovanni Gallegos. Alex Reyes closed it with a scoreless ninth for his first save.
The performance by Cardinals pitchers helped overcome a difficult weekend in Cincinnati, where they allowed 27 runs in losing two of three games.
Miami starter Trevor Rogers (0-1) walked four batters in the first, propelling St. Louis to its early advantage. Rogers allowed two hits, struck out six and didn’t walk another batter after the first. He went four innings.
“I had a real tough time just trying to calm myself down,” Rogers said. “Probably the main thing was I was trying to strike them out on the first pitch, which isn’t possible.”
Tommy Edman led off the St. Louis fifth with a home run against John Curtiss.
“I wasn’t looking for a slider, he had thrown me a good one earlier in the at bat,” Edman said. “He hung one there on the 2-2 (pitch).”
The Marlins scored on Marte’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.
“We had the (roof) open tonight,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “You just don’t know what the wind does here honestly. We don’t play with it open that often. It’s nice when it’s open, but you don’t really know what it does. Not sure if it was knocking it down or not.”
QUIET NIGHT FOR CARDINALS INFIELDERS
De Leon and the three relievers induced 12 flyball outs and struck out six. Edman didn’t receive a chance at second base.
“Ponce is a flyball-strikeout pitcher,” Edman said. “We don’t get too many groundballs there. Obviously, you’ve got to stay ready.”
Cardinals: (LHP) Kwang Hyun Kim (back stiffness) will throw in a game against minor leaguers Tuesday at the club’s spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla. Shildt said Kim is expected to throw approximately 75 pitches.
Marlins: OF-IF Garrett Cooper (reaction to second COVID-19 vaccine) was placed on the injured list. RHP Jordan Holloway will take Cooper’s spot on the roster. … The club also placed RHP Elieser Hernandez (right bicep inflammation) on the 10-day injured list and recalled RHP Nick Neidert.
Cardinals: RHP (John Gant, 0-3, 2.40 in 2020) will start the middle game of the series on Tuesday.
Marlins: RHP Sandy Alcantara (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start Tuesday after he pitched six scoreless innings in the season opener April 1.
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