Springfield, MO - The Northwest Arkansas Naturals topped the Springfield Cardinals, 21-6, before 4,796 fans at Hammons Field on Tuesday night. With 13 games remaining in the Regular Season, the Cardinals are tied for 1st place in the North Division Second Half Standings with the Arkansas Travelers.
The Naturals (28-29, 53-74) jumped in front in the top of the first inning against RHP Richard Castillo (L, 7-9). With one on and two down, DH Edinson Rincon reached on a throwing error to extend the inning. LF Lane Adams then cracked the scoreless tie with a three-run home run to left field, swinging the Naturals into the 3-0 advantage.
The Cardinals (29-28, 62-63), though, responded right away with four runs in the bottom of the first inning. CF James Ramsey sparked the rally with an inning-opening free pass, before racing around to third on a double by SS Luis Mateo. 3B Ruben Gotay then got the Cardinals on the board with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field, plating Ramsey and moving Mateo to third base. Mateo came in the final ninety feet on an RBI double from 1B Xavier Scruggs, who then scored on an RBI base hit by RF Stephen Piscotty, tying the game. A double by C Cody Stanley moved Piscotty to third base, before LF Starlin Rodriguez brought him home with an RBI sacrifice fly, lifting the Cardinals into the 4-3 avantage.
After Piscotty robbed 3B Rey Navarro of a home run with a great leaping grab at the wall in the top of the second, he swatted one of his own in the bottom of the third. With one down and the bases clear, Piscotty belted a solo home run over the left field fence, stretching the Cardinals lead to 5-3.
Castillo strung together a stretch of 13 consecutive Naturals retired from the end of the first through the fifth, but Northwest Arkansas got the bats going again in the top of the sixth. CF Brett Eibner opened the stanza with a double to left field, before Castillo responded with a strikeout. Bonifacio, though, got on next with a walk before a single by Rincon loaded the bases. Adams struck again, this time with a two-run double, plating Eibner and Bonifacio to tie the game. RHP Heath Wyatt took over on the mound to pitch to 1B Matt Fields, but Fields won the battle with a three-run homer, belting the Naturals into the 8-5 advantage. After a couple of singles put runners at the corners, LHP Danny Miranda took over on the mound and quickly dealt a strikeout to C Mitch Canham. During Eibner's second plate appearance of the frame, 3B Rey Navarro broke for second base on a pitch. Stanley fired the throw to second, but 2B Colin Walsh missed the catch, allowing the ball to skip into center field and the runner at third base, 2B Whit Merrifield, to score for a 9-5 advantage.
With another RBI double by Scruggs in the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals worked the deficit down to 9-6 before the Naturals ran away with it in the eighth and ninth. A two-run double by Eibner and a three-run homer from pinch hitting 3B Cheslor Cuthbert in the eighth stretched it to a 14-6 lead. Seven runs in the ninth, featuring a three-run homer and an RBI single from Merrifield, accounted for the 21-6 final score in the Naturals victory. RHP Sam Runion (W, 4-2) tossed two scoreless relief innings to log the win for Northwest Arkansas.
Click here for the complete box score from Tuesday's game.
AT&T Dreams Come True Facebook contest every day this week
AT&T and the Cardinals are teaming up to make dreams come true with the AT&T Dreams Come True contest all week long on the Cardinals Facebook Fan Page.
Every morning this week, there will be a new question posted on the Cardinals Fan Page at 9am. Fans have until 1pm each day to post a creative answer to the question in 50 words or less.
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The second-to-last home series of the season continues against the Naturals on Wednesday with a 7:09pm First Pitch. Gates open at 6:09pm.
Don't miss the St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Championship Replica Ring Giveaway (2,500) and a Johnsonville "Buck a Brat" Night this Thursday. First Pitch is 7:09pm, with gates opening at 6:09pm.
The series wraps up with the American National Back-to-Back Texas League Player of the Year T-Shirt Giveaway (2,500) and an AM Pyrotechnics Friday Night Fireworks Show featuring Top 40 Music on Friday. First Pitch each night is 7:09pm, with gates opening at 6:09pm.
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