Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Back Masterson for Win in Debut; CARDINALS 9, BREWERS 7

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Back Masterson for Win in Debut; CARDINALS 9, BREWERS 7

Article excerpt

Kolten Wong, assessing a recent skid in which he had struck out three times in three different games in the last 10 days and had been six for his last 36 overall, said he merely had been swinging too hard.

"The good thing," said the Cardinals' rookie before Saturday night's game here with Milwaukee, "is I know why I'm striking out. And I can fix that easily."

Presumably not swinging from his heels, Wong cracked a 408-foot homer off Milwaukee's Kyle Lohse in the first inning. And he singled in two more runs in a five-run second inning that catapulted the Cardinals to a 9-7 win in righthander Justin Masterson's debut after arriving from Cleveland.

Wong, who didn't strike out at all, also doubled in the sixth and stole third for the first time this season. He didn't score that time but the Cardinals, engaging a sellout crowd of 45,719, scored their most runs at home since they had 10 on April 12 against Chicago.

Manager Mike Matheny had considered giving Wong a rest after a nothing-for-five, three-strikeout night on Friday but took the small sample size of Wong having been two for three against Lohse and ran with it.

"I knew the reason I was striking out as soon as the game finished yesterday," said Wong. "I was swinging way too hard and trying to do way too much. It showed today when I made that adjustment."

The homer was the longest of Wong's major league career and he said, of the more controlled swing that produced it, "If that doesn't wake you up, I don't know what will.

"I'm going to continue to try to have an easy swing and not try to demolish the ball."

Masterson's reviews were mixed. The sinkerballer, who last pitched in the majors on July 7 before going out with a knee ailment, admitted to some early-game rust.

But he recorded 14 outs on ground balls, including two double plays. He also gave up five runs but he did pitch six innings, longer than some of his predecessors had traversed.

A surprising contribution came at bat. Masterson, a career .136 batsman, singled with two outs to keep alive a second inning which mushroomed into a five-run affair, the Cardinals' biggest since that April 12 game. And his sacrifice after Tony Cruz's double in the fourth led to a run as Cruz scored on Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly.

Matheny accused Masterson of "sandbagging," as in giving Matheny a "terrible report" about his hitting.

Masterson said he had told Matheny he was "average. I used to be good back in the day but I haven't done it too much.

"It was nice to take a couple of good swings but the best part was moving Tony over."

Matheny said, "(Masterson) is a whole lot better than what he said."

Oscar Taveras drove in two runs for the Cardinals, who snapped a home losing streak at four games and cut Milwaukee's lead over them to two games in the National League Central Division.

Aramis Ramirez, who is 15 for 33 against the Cardinals this year, singled home a run in the Milwaukee first. …

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