ST. LOUIS — Tommy Pham knew he had a walk-off homer in him. So did his manager.
Pham’s two-run homer in the ninth led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. It was Pham’s first career walk-off homer and the fourth this season for the Cardinals.
Matt Carpenter beat out an infield single before Pham hit a 2-2 pitch off Brad Boxberger (3-4) for his 17th homer of the season.
“It’s kind of cool. I thought about it when I was on deck,” Pham said. “I wanted to have a walk-off moment and coincidentally it happened. So, it’s pretty cool.”
The big blow did not surprise St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.
“That’s Tommy and he’s had a fantastic season and being able to do what we saw right there, he’s got that kind of power,” Matheny said. “He’s dangerous. I mean, he’s just continuing to have that kind of season where every time he walks up there you kind of expect him to do something special, and he certainly did that.”
Boxberger consoled himself with the fact that he didn’t hang the slider to Pham.
“It was a good pitch,” Boxberger said. “It was down. He had to go for it. At least he hit a good pitch. I’d rather him hit one like that than me hanging one. But either way, it’s not what you want.”
The Cardinals tied it at 4 in the eighth with two runs off Tampa Bay’s bullpen. Yadier Molina’s two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth off Tommy Hunter scored Pham, and singles by Jedd Gyorko and Stephen Piscotty loaded the bases. Boxberger relieved Hunter and gave up an RBI single to Kolten Wong.
“I made some pitches and they hit the ball,” Hunter said. “Some ground balls made it through. Give them a little bit of credit. They hit the ball to where our players weren’t. We played well enough to win. I just didn’t make good enough pitches at the end of the game.”
Tyler Lyons (2-0) pitched the ninth to earn the win.
Blake Snell pitched seven innings for the Rays, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. Snell, who had never before faced the Cardinals, struck out the side in his last inning. He finished with seven strikeouts.
“This stinks. This is a game we had,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We should have won and we didn’t. Obviously, this is a tough loss.”
Mike Leake, who was in danger of losing his spot in the rotation as the Cardinals waited until Friday to announce he would start Saturday, also went seven innings, allowing all four of his runs on three homers.
Lucas Duda hit a two-out, two-run homer to center in the first to drive in Evan Longoria. Duda has three homers in 10 at-bats against Leake.
Corey Dickerson notched his career-high 25th homer with two outs in the fifth, making it 3-0.
Dickerson misplayed three balls in left, but only one was called for an error. The Rays had played nine straight errorless games before the miscue.
Paul DeJong got St. Louis on the board with an RBI triple in the sixth after Dickerson allowed the ball to carom past him in left. Two batters later, Molina lifted a short fly to left, and Dickerson waved his arms to indicate he couldn’t see it. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier raced over and dove, almost making the play. Molina ended up with a run-scoring double.
Adeiny Hechavarria put the Rays ahead 4-2 in the seventh when he hit an 0-2 pitch into the left field bullpen.
CARDINALS HALL OF FAME
Three Cardinals greats — Tim McCarver, Mark McGwire and Pepper Martin — were formally enshrined Saturday in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and were honored before the game.
Tampa’s Steven Souza made a running, over-the-shoulder catch in the right field corner to deny Molina an extra base hit.
Cardinals: 3B Gyorko had to pull up as he rounded third in the eighth inning and was replaced by a pinch-runner. He was favoring his right leg.
“I don’t think anything’s broken,” Gyorko said. “My leg still feels a little bit weird but I will know more tomorrow. It doesn’t feel great but we will see.”
OF Pham (foot soreness) was back in the starting lineup, hitting second. He had a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning Friday.
Rays: 2B Brad Miller was back in the starting lineup. He left Thursday’s game against Toronto with a bruised right shoulder after being hit by a pitch. He pinch-hit Friday and struck out.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (9-7, 3.76) has never faced the Cardinals. He has reached double digits in strikeouts in each of his last three starts and has nine such games this season, tying the club record.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (10-6, 3.17) will be making his team-leading 27th start. He is nine strikeouts away from 900 in his career, which would tie him for 10th in team history. He is 0-1 in two appearances (one start) against Tampa Bay.
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