Banuelos, Braves Drop Battle of Rookies

Atlanta_BravesAfter opening his career with five no-decisions, lefty Tim Cooney notched his first Major League win while throwing a career-high seven innings in the Cardinals’ 4-2 victory over the Braves at Busch Stadium on Friday night.

Cooney received most of his support from center fielder Randal Grichuk, who connected for a two-run homer and scored twice against Braves starter Manny Banuelos. Three of the four runs Banuelos allowed over five-plus innings came with two out.

The Braves shaved a four-run deficit in half with a two-run sixth that snapped Cooney’s 12-inning scoreless streak. Cameron Maybin’s RBI double off Cooney was Atlanta’s only extra-base hit of the night.  “This was definitely my best fastball command, as well as off-speed pitches,” said Cooney, who finished seven innings on 74 pitches. “When you’re able to locate the ball, good things are going to happen. I was definitely on today, and I feel like I’ve been getting a little bit better each start.”

With the win, the Cardinals improved to 35-12 at home this year and are a season-high 28 games over .500. The Braves have won just three of their last 11.

Just as he did on Thursday, Grichuk blasted a two-run homer in his first at-bat of the night on Friday. This one followed a two-out walk by Yadier Molina and traveled 421 feet to move Grichuk into second place on the team’s home run leaderboard. Grichuk later singled, swiped second and put the team ahead, 3-0, by scoring on Mark Reynolds’ two-out hit.

“It’s all about approach for Randal,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “If he has an idea and waits and gets the pitch that he’s looking for, he can mis-hit a ball and it’s still going to leave the park. Just here recently, I think some things are really starting to click for him because you’re seeing the consistent at-bats.”
The Braves generated their offense in the sixth when the eight-hole hitter, Andrelton Simmons, led off with a single to center and advanced to second on Banuelos’ second sacrifice bunt. Maybin doubled for the first time since July 4 to score Simmons, and then the center fielder scored on a wild pitch after taking third on a groundout.

Cameron Maybin hustles home from third base on a wild pitch from Tim Cooney, trimming the Braves’ deficit to two runs
Siegrist shines as substitute: With closer Trevor Rosenthal unavailable after pitching on three straight days, the Cardinals tapped Kevin Siegrist as their closer du jour. Siegrist earned his fifth save by striking out Jonny Gomes to end the game with the potential tying runs on base.
“First and second with Jonny Gomes at the plate, who historically wears out left-handed pitching, you feel pretty good about that situation,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Siegrist made some nice pitches on him.”

Banuelos started with a perfect first inning but surrendered runs in each of the next three frames while struggling at times with location in his fourth Major League start.  Banuelos’ four earned runs were the most he’s allowed in one start after giving up a total of three — two earned — over 15 2/3 innings in his first three starts.
Shortly before first pitch, the Braves finalized a deal that included Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe going to the Mets for young right-handers Rob Whalen and John Gant. Though the trade was not announced until after the game, the Braves had to play the game without Johnson or Uribe available.

The Braves send former Cardinals righty Shelby Miller to the mound in the second game of the series on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT.  Thunder Radio will bring you the broadcast beginning with the pregame show at 6:00 PM.