PHOENIX (AP) — Yadier Molina was doing what the 38-year-old catcher has done for nearly two decades, throwing his body around behind the plate, blocking pitches from the Cardinals’ stable full of hard-throwing relievers.
Then came the 10th inning, and the St. Louis star still had the energy to rip a game-winning hit and lead the Cardinals to a 5-4 win Thursday night over the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have lost 11 straight games.
“He’s Iron Man back there,” Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill said of Molina. “He’s a walking legend. Everything he does is noticed by the boys in the locker room.”
Molina turned on a sinker from Stefan Crichton (0-4) for his one-out double, just out of the reach of a diving Eduardo Escobar. The hit scored Paul Goldschmidt, who started the inning on second base. Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched a scoreless 10th for his first save of the season.
The Cardinals won despite blowing a 4-0 lead. Carlos Martinez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and O’Neill hit a two-run homer in his return from the injured list.
The Diamondbacks clawed their way back with a big seventh. The first six batters reached base — punctuated by Pavin Smith’s two-run double — and they cut the deficit to 4-3. Smith came up big again in the eighth, driving a tying double into the left-center gap that scored Ketel Marte.
Martinez was brilliant through six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing three straight hits and getting pulled from the game after David Peralta’s RBI double. He retired the first nine batters he faced, including six strikeouts. He didn’t allow a baserunner until Josh Rojas led off the fourth with a walk.
He struck out six and allowed three earned runs.
“He’s just done a fantastic job,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “He was in attack…
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