Cardinals starter Luke Weaver took his hat off and slumped in disappointment as he watched Nick Markakis’ grand slam sail over the right field wall in the fifth inning.
A pair of runs followed with two outs in the inning, as Weaver was pulled after 4 2/3 innings pitched. The rookie gave up eight runs, ten hits and two walks in the Cardinals’ 11-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
“That game came down to that fifth inning,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It started out with a strikeout, an infield single and a bloop; then it turned on a very good at-bat. He got Markakis probably four foul balls there on good pitches, but [Markakis] won that one. That swayed the game pretty radically.”
Weaver’s downfall began on a Markakis double to lead off the second inning. Four of the five hitters that inning squared up the ball, resulting in an early 2-0 lead for the Braves.
“Mechanically, I was just a tick off,” Weaver said. “I was leaving some pitches up a little bit. The damage was done on a couple big swings, and I thought I threw some pitches in good spots, but I’ve gotta execute a little better.”
Although Weaver wasn’t getting any help from his offense to start with, an eight-run deficit through five innings will take the wind out of just about any team. The Cardinals had four hits through eight innings — none of them for extra-bases.
Braves starter Max Fried kept the St. Louis lineup off balance by hitting his spots with a sharp-breaking curveball, a mid-90’s fastball and a variety of other pitches. His night ended after 6 2/3 innings, recording 11 strikeouts, his first career base-hit, and holding a shutout.
“[Fried] has got good stuff,” Matheny said. “He kept everybody off balance. It was one of the better left-handed breaking-balls we’ve seen this year. He had enough giddy-up on his fastball at the top of the zone to make his breaking-ball effective where you get chases at the top. Yeah, he did what he wanted to do.”
Reliever Matt Wisler kept the Cardinals lineup in check, as a shutout looked to be in the near future — until a Jose Martínez leadoff home run to start the ninth inning.
Martínez’s 13th long-ball of the campaign began a four-run rally in the ninth that included three extra-base hits. The 11 run deficit could only be cut down so much though, as the offense got going too late for the second straight game.
John Gant (2-2, 3.48 ERA) will try to build off a seven inning, one hit performance in his last start. He’ll take on one of the best pitchers in the National League in Mike Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.14 ERA) at 1:15 p.m. Friday at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals look to avoid getting swept.