ST. LOUIS — — Spencer Strider pitched six solid innings and William Contreras hit a three-run double as the Atlanta Braves beat the St. Louis Cardinals 11-4 on Friday night.
Atlanta has won four in a row, seven of eight and 15 of its last 17 games. The defending World Series champions stayed within two games of the NL East-leading New York Mets, who beat Colorado.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said his team is finding different ways to win, and scoring 11 runs without a home run was yet another.
“It’s really encouraging that we can string up some hits and score some runs without using the long ball,” he said.
St. Louis has lost three of five but still holds a six-game lead in the NL Central over Milwaukee, which lost at home to the Chicago Cubs.
Strider (8-4) scattered six hits and struck out seven, including his first five outs. The rookie allowed one run and walked one.
He wanted to go deeper into the game and was not thrilled with his performance. But in the end, Strider knew that he did his job.
“Getting six innings here and limiting it to one run is good,” he said. “That put us in a position to win and that’s all I’m trying to do.”
Contreras, who had the first four-hit game of his career, faced reliever André Pallante with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. He sent an 0-1 pitch to the center right wall to score Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Travis d’Arnaud for a 5-1 lead.
That closed the book on Cardinals starter Jose Quintana (4-6), who allowed four runs, two earned, and seven hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked two.
The Braves scored three in the eighth with three singles and one hit per pitch. They added three more in the ninth using two doubles and two singles.
Contreras singled and scored in both innings.
“The pitchers are making adjustments to me and I have to make adjustments too,” he said through a translator. “You have to keep pushing yourself to make adjustments to keep getting results.”
An error by the Cardinals helped the Braves score their first two runs in the fourth inning. Second baseman Nolan Gorman fielded Olson’s grounder cleanly, but threw wide of second base trying to start a double play. The ball settled into foul territory in left field, allowing Dansby Swanson to score from first and Olson to get to second. A single by d’Arnaud scored Olson.
Tyler O’Neill hit his ninth homer of the year in the ninth, a two-run homer, to lead the Cardinals to 11-3. St. Louis got another run after Brendan Donovan’s line drive bounced off reliever Jackson Stephens’ head. Stephens never came down and left the field under his own power after being checked out by Atlanta’s coaching staff.
“He’s conscious and everything, but he’s going to have to go to the hospital and get some tests done,” Snitker said. “It’s always scary when you see someone get hit in the head, in the face. That’s probably the most disgusting thing you can witness in a game.”
Cardinals wide receiver Yadier Molina moved up to third with 2,092 career starts at the position, passing Bob Boone.
Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley is back after a week of paternity leave, including a stint on the restricted list after extending his leave because his son needed some additional testing. … 3B Nolan Arenado went on the paternity list after missing Thursday’s game at the Chicago Cubs to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.
St. Louis sent LHP Packy Naughton to Triple-A Memphis and recalled INF/OF Juan Yepez, who had been out since July 15 with a forearm strain.
Braves: Snitker said 2B Ozzie Albies is close to coming off the 60-day disabled list. Sidelined since mid-June with a broken left foot, Albies joined the club in St. Louis and worked out with the rest of the team.
Cardinals: LHP Steven Matz will pitch a bullpen on Saturday as he tries to come back from a torn MCL in his left knee sustained in mid-June. St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol expects Matz, a starter, to return before the end of the season and would use him out of the bullpen.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Braves: RHP Charlie Morton (6-5, 3.99 ERA) is coming off two straight games with double-digit strikeouts, against the New York Mets and Houston Astros. He has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his last six games.
Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (7-3, 3.08) pitched his first career shutout in his last start, a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. Since he arrived from the New York Yankees in a trade for OF Harrison Bader on Aug. 2, Montgomery is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA.