Gant, Ozuna spark St. Louis to victory over Cleveland
By WARREN MAYES, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Spot starter John Gant earned himself another turn in the rotation.
Gant pitched one-hit ball over a career-high seven innings, Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run double and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cleveland Indians 4-0 on Monday night.
“I would think so,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said about Gant getting another start. “He didn’t do anything to take that away from him.”
It was the third consecutive win for the Cardinals and the 10,000th regular season victory for the franchise. St. Louis joined the Braves, Cubs, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers among NL teams to reach the milestone. It was the Cardinals’ fifth win by shutout this season.
Cleveland had won seven straight. Mike Clevinger (6-3) allowed two runs over five innings, and the Indians had just four hits.
Gant (2-2) started in place of Michael Wacha, who went on the disabled list last week with an oblique strain.
“With Wacha gone, I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Gant said. “I’m going to keep doing my best to fill them. I’m going to keep doing all I can for this team.”
Gant allowed only an infield single to Yan Gomes that hit third base in the third inning. He walked a career-high five and struck out four. It was his first win in three starts this season.
“We’ve seen him be so good, but we threw him in there against one of the hottest offenses in baseball,” Matheny said. “Wow. It was some kind of good.”
Gant used his assortment of pitches to thwart Cleveland.
“I thought he used the breaking ball well early,” Matheny said. “He spotted the fastball. His changeup was exceptional late in the game. It’s such a valuable weapon. I just felt like he had them going back and forth and up and down.”
Cleveland manager Terry Francona said he was impressed with Gant.
“He kept us off balance. He threw the breaking ball that was kind of in and out of the zone and got us to chase,” Francona said. “I just thought he really pitched. Didn’t overwhelm you with stuff but (we’re) lucky the third base bag got in the way of Gomes (infield hit) or we wouldn’t have had anything. That was about it.”
St. Louis closer Bud Norris relieved Austin Gomber with two on and no outs in the ninth. He got a strikeout and a double play to record his 15th save.
Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks put two runners on in the eighth with two outs but got Edwin Encarnacion to ground out.
It was the second shortest outing of the season for Clevinger, who allowed six hits and walked two. Clevinger had pitched at least six innings in five straight starts before facing St. Louis.
Francona said Clevinger began to cramp up in the fourth inning, and the team pushed him for one more before calling it a day.
“He had a high pitch count,” Francona said, “and man, we just didn’t want to do something we couldn’t undo, so we figured that was enough.”
St. Louis took a 2-0 lead in the third. Matt Carpenter singled for one of his three hits, and Greg Garcia walked. With one out, Ozuna hit a one-out double to score both runners.
Kolten Wong added an RBI double in the sixth, and Harrison Bader singled in a run in the eighth. It was Wong’s first extra-base hit with runners in scoring position this season.
This was Cleveland’s first visit to St. Louis since 2012, and the Indians fell to 15-9 all-time against the Cardinals.
First pitch was pushed back due to a thunderstorm in the area. The game began after a 1-hour, 21-minute delay.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (right elbow contusion) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session. He got hurt when Minnesota’s Joe Mauer hit a line drive that struck Carrasco on the right elbow on June 16 in Cleveland. The plan is to throw 40 pitches off the mound Wednesday and then perhaps make a minor league rehab appearance as early as Saturday.
Cardinals: CF Tommy Pham did not start for the second consecutive game due to flu-like symptoms, but he came in a double-switch situation in the ninth inning. … RHP Matt Bowman threw a fastball-only session in the bullpen before the game. He will receive an injection to stimulate blood flow to his fingers Tuesday, according to general manager Michael Girsch. … Girsch said RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) should be able to begin playing catch next week.
Indians: Corey Kluber (11-3, 2.10) will be making his second career start against the Cardinals. In the May 13, 2015 start, Kluber struck out a career-high 18 batters, matching the Indians franchise record for a nine-inning game.
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (3-4, 3.24) has dropped his last three decisions and allowed a season-high eight hits and seven runs in his last outing at Milwaukee. The Cardinals have lost his last five games, including all four since his return from the disabled list.
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