Grichuk, Cooney Lead Cardinals over Braves

Two young Cardinals players led St. Louis to a series-opening win over the visiting Atlanta Braves.

On a 90-degree night, the shower St. Louis rookie left-hander Tim Cooney received in the locker room after recording his first major league win was almost as enjoyable as his performance on the hill.

''It was ice cold, just what I needed,'' Cooney after throwing seven solid innings, leading the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer, his second in as many nights, and Mark Reynolds and Jhonny Peralta added run-scoring hits to help the Cardinals improve to 6-1 since the All-Star break. They are an MLB-best 35-12 at home.

Meanwhile, the Braves have lost their last six road games.

Cooney (1-0) gave up five hits and two earned runs in an efficient 74-pitch stint. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. He faced four batters over the minimum.

''I think my command has been getting a little bit better each start,'' Cooney said. ''This was the best for my fastball command. When you are able to locate the ball, good things are going to happen.''

Cooney said the importance of the moment did not sink in until he looked up at the scoreboard right after the final out.

''When it ended and I saw my name in win column, it was pretty cool,'' he said.

Cooney had a successive scoreless string stopped at 12 innings when the Braves scored twice in the sixth.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny has been impressed with Cooney's composure in all six of his starts. The last five were no-decisions.

''He was very unpredictable with what he was going to throw tonight,'' Matheny said. ''He made the pitches in tough counts. He had a feel for everything.''

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina did a solid job of guiding the rookie through the little trouble he encountered.

''It's always good to see someone get their first win, or first homer, or RBI,'' Molina said. ''I'm happy for him.''

Grichuk's homer came in the second inning. He also hit a two-run homer in the second on Thursday in a 4-3 win over Kansas City. His 11th of the season came off rookie Manny Banuelos (1-2), who gave up six hits and four earned runs in five-plus innings. He had allowed one earned run or less in all three of his previous starts.

''I just went up there trying to be aggressive in the strike zone,'' Grichuk said. ''I got some pitches I thought I could handle and I swung at them.''

Kevin Siegrist retired the Braves in the ninth for his fifth save in eight opportunities. He struck out Jonny Gomes with two on to end the game. St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal was given the night off after appearing in the previous three games.

Peralta brought in Matt Carpenter with a run-scoring single in the third for a 3-0 lead. Reynolds drove in Grichuk in the fourth.

The Braves parlayed a double by Cameron Maybin and a single by Andrelton Simmons into two runs.

Atlanta was able to stay close, but could not come up with a big hit down the stretch.

''I thought our bullpen did a terrific job coming in, keeping it right there,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez. ''With Jonny Gomes at the plate, who historically wears out left-handed pitching, you feel pretty good in that situation.''

Banuelos struggled to the worst outing of his short career.

''It was a tough game,'' Banuelos said. ''I (made) a couple of mistakes in tough situations.''

The Braves, who were opening a 10-game road trip, have lost nine of their last 12 overall.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman began a rehabilitation assignment with the Rookie League Gulf Coast team in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Friday. Freeman, who has missed 29 games, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 23 with a bruised right wrist.

Cardinals: Rookie OF/INF Stephen Piscotty did not start on Friday after being a late scratch on Thursday due to a stiff neck. He reached on an error as a pinch hitter in the seventh.

UP NEXT

Former Cardinals RHP Shelby Miller (5-6, 2.33) will face RHP Carlos Martinez (10-4, 2.51) in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday. Miller was acquired from the Cardinals on Nov. 17, 2014, along with RHP Tyrell Jenkins in exchange for OF Jason Heyward and RHP Jordan Walden. Martinez had recorded 10 successive quality starts.

Link to box score: St. Louis (62-34) 4, Atlanta (45-51) 2


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