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Another ninth-inning rally puts Cardinals in position to sweep the Red Sox to finish road trip

BOSTON — The Cardinals’ bats were largely quieted and looked punch-less Saturday against Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale in an impressive outing from the left-hander who made just two starts last season.

Sale held the Cardinals to just three hits and one run over eight innings, but for the second consecutive game the Cardinals turned the game around against Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen to record a 4-3 come-from-behind win as they clinched a series victory at historic Fenway Park on Saturday.

The Cardinals (15-25) will try to sweep their first road series of the season on Sunday night as they conclude their two-city, six-game road swing.

Nolan Arenado provided the lone run against Sale with a seventh-inning solo home run over the vaunted green monster in left field. Arenado, who homered on Friday night, has now homered in consecutive games for the first time this season and since he homered in three consecutive games from August 10-12, 2022.

The Cardinals trailed by two runs entering the ninth inning, but they scratched out three runs against Jansen. The third run, an unearned run, came with the help of some heads-up base running by Brendan Donovan, hustle down the first base line by Alec Burleson and a throwing error by Red Sox shortstop Kike Hernandez.

Paul Goldschmidt started the ninth-inning rally with a leadoff walk and then stole second base. Willson Contreras walked to put two men on without an out. After Arenado popped up for the first out of the inning, Nolan Gorman’s pinch-hit RBI double put runners on second and third with one out and the Cardinals down by a run.

Donovan came to the plate as a pinch hitter for Dylan Carlson, and the Red Sox intentionally walked Donovan to load the bases. Burleson, pinch hitting for Paul DeJong, hit a soft grounder to Red Sox second baseman Pablo Reyes. Donovan, alertly, slowed but did not slide and made the throw by Hernandez more difficult.

Hernandez’s throwing error kept the Red Sox from turning a game-ending double play, allowed the runner from third base to score and the go-ahead run to score.

Giovanny Gallegos tossed a scoreless ninth inning to close out the win.

Matz still looking for a win

Steven Matz continues to search for his first win of this season. He allowed three runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings on Saturday against the Red Sox.

His last win came on Sept. 17, 2022, against the Cincinnati Reds. That win came in relief as injury-plagued Matz was limited last season to 10 starts (15 appearances) in his first season with the Cardinals.

The Red Sox got on the board early against Matz after Justin Turner doubled to center field and then scored on Rafael Devers’ two-out single off the green monster in left field. Devers’ a left-handed hitting slugger, sent that 95-mph sinker into left field with an exit velocity of 104 mph. Matz had limited left-handed batters to a .130 batting average entering the day.

Matz gave up two more runs in the third inning when he gave up one-out double to Pablo Reyes, hit left-handed hitting Alex Verdugo with a pitch, and then, after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, gave up a two-out two-run double to left field on a fly ball by Rob Refsnyder that outfielder Juan Yepez got a glove on but didn’t catch while leaping just in front of the wall.

Matz gave up just a pair of singles in his final two innings. He threw 91 pitches to get through five innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Contreras will return to catching

Prior to Saturday’s game, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol announced that Willson Contreras will return to his post behind the plate as the club’s starting catcher in the first game of the start of the club’s upcoming homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

Contreras, who turned 31 on Saturday, will catch pitcher Jack Flaherty’s start in the series opener. That will mark Contreras’ first start at catcher since May 4.

The Cardinals moved him from catcher to designated hitter after just 23 starts behind the plate, but offered few specifics on their reasoning other than having cited a lack of familiarity and wanting to build comfort with the pitching staff and the club’s internal systems.

“We have felt really good about the progress that we’ve made, and it lines up really well for him to catch on Monday with Jack on the mound,” Marmol said.

Lynn Worthy

@LWorthySports on Twitter

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