O’Neill’s late homer rallies Cards past bickering Padres 3-2
ST. LOUIS (AP) — With the San Diego Padres squabbling amongst themselves, the St. Louis Cardinals rallied to solidify their postseason position.
Tyler O’Neill hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Cardinals came back to beat the Padres 3-2 Saturday night after San Diego stars Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. had a dugout dustup.
The Cardinals pulled two games ahead of Cincinnati for the second and final NL wild card, with San Diego and Philadelphia 2 1/2 games behind.
Padres starter Yu Darvish dominated the Cardinals over seven innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine. He handed a 2-0 lead over to the bullpen, but reliever Emilio Pagán (4-2) couldn’t get through the eighth.
Tommy Edman scored Harrison Bader on a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1 before O’Neill drove his 28th homer of the season for a one-run lead. Giovanny Gallegos worked a perfect ninth inning for his ninth save.
“He’s had several moments like that where he’s hit a dramatic home run for us to go up late in a game,” Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said about O’Neill. “He’s got a good approach. He knows his strengths. That’s what’s called growing up in the clubhouse right there.”
Machado shouted and cursed at Tatis during a dugout tirade in the fifth, telling the young star “it’s not about you” and “you go play baseball” after Tatis struck out looking in the inning. Tatis reacted angrily to the call by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, and manager Jayce Tingler was ejected when he came out of the dugout to argue.
The 29-year-old Machado and 22-year-old Tatis were separated by teammates during the incident, which came at the end of the top of the fifth. They eventually made their way to their positions — Machado at third, Tatis at short.
“It’s not viewed negatively,” Tingler said. “We’re a family. We’re not going to discuss the details, but we care. There’s passion. There’s frustration. Those are all emotions that are natural, and those things happen.”
O’Neill also had some words for Cuzzi after striking out looking in the fourth and sixth innings.
“Some pitches were off the plate,” O’Neill said. “I think the biggest thing for me was staying locked in and not giving it away. It was the biggest at bat of the night there in the eighth inning so I had to hunker down and stay locked in.”
San Diego scored both of its runs on four singles off Wainwright in the fourth inning. Wainwright allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings in his 303rd career start with Yadier Molina behind the plate.
“We’re frustrated, upset, and laying it all out there,” Tingler said. “To come up a run short, we’re all playing for the same thing. It’s baseball. These things happen, and it can quickly turn. We need it to turn quick.”
Kodi Whitley and Justin Miller (1-0) each pitched a scoreless inning before Gallegos closed out.
The Cardinals hosted members of the 2011 World Series championship team for a 10th reunion celebration. Game 7 starting pitcher Chris Carpenter and World Series MVP David Freese were among the attendees.
Padres: INF Jake Cronenworth (fractured finger) returned to the starting lineup after appearing as a defensive replacement Friday night.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder strain) threw a pregame bullpen session. ... RHP Dakota Hudson (torn right UCL) could be activated from the injured list in the upcoming week after throwing a bullpen session Sunday or Monday.
San Diego will start RHP Jake Arrieta (5-13, 7.05 ERA), who is 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA since signing with the Padres on Aug. 16. Cardinals LHP J.A. Happ (9-8, 6.00 ERA) will face San Diego for the first time since July 16, 2012 with Houston when he tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
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