ST. LOUIS -- Having come so close to notching his first career complete game at points earlier this season, Carlos Martinez finally achieved the career first on Saturday. Backed by the offense's most potent performance in three weeks, Martinez limited the Phillies to four hits while throwing the first and final pitches in a 7-0 win at Busch Stadium.
It was the second time this season that Martinez covered nine scoreless innings. The earlier instance, however, netted him a no-decision, as the Cardinals' offense offered no support. This time, it came through with plenty. A four-run fourth punctuated by Jedd Gyorko's two-run double and a three-run seventh capped by Matt Carpenter's two-run double helped the club to a second consecutive win.
"All I can really say is I'm living out my dream," said Martinez, who struck out 11 over the 107-pitch effort. "This was one of my goals, one of my dreams. The next one is to pitch a perfect game. I just feel so happy with my performance. I was completely focused today. All of my pitches were perfect. I'm just really happy."
Martinez entered the day having pitched well as of late, but having had little offense support to back him. His 2.84 runs of support was third-lowest in the National League, but a day after general manager John Mozeliak called out the offense's timid production, it came through with its biggest inning output (four runs) of the season.
"Good at-bats, I think, from top to bottom," Gyorko said. "We got in good situations today, and we got the clutch hit. I think that's where we've been lacking, just not being able to get that one [big] hit. It was just putting it all together."
All four of those fourth-inning runs were charged to Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, who was chased after allowing four hits and four walks in five innings. He's made six starts this season and none have lasted longer than six innings.
"I'm getting there," Pivetta said. "I'm working hard, I'm staying positive and I know I'm going to do better than this. I know I can do this, because I've done it at every other level and I've had flashes of it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Two and two: After some aggressive baserunning pushed a pair of runners into scoring position, Gyorko drove a ball 398 feet to straightaway center to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. The hit, which came off Gyorko's bat at 102.4 mph, was the first of a pair of two-run doubles the Cardinals would have on the afternoon. Gyorko ranks second on the club with 21 extra-base hits. He finished the day with three RBIs.
"There were just a lot of little pieces that looked right," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We put a lot of that on the top of our order to take those kinds of at-bats, to run the bases like they did, to put pressure on the defense. That allows a big inning to happen."
Knocked down: Ready to sacrifice himself in order to move two runners up 90 feet, Martinez instead landed on the ground when he took a pitch from Phillies reliever Jeanmar Gomez off his right hand while squaring to bunt in the seventh. After being evaluated by St. Louis' athletic trainer, Martinez took his place at first base and remained in the game. The hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Cardinals, who went on to score three runs in the inning. Martinez scored the last one by hustling home on a sacrifice fly.
"I thought it was coming right to my face. That's why I reacted so quickly and moved out of the way," Martinez said. "It got part of my hand. Nothing major."
"Obviously, the road trip was a rough one. Coming here, getting the win, breaking a streak was what we wanted to accomplish. Carlos putting his foot down was pretty nice." -- Cardinals catcher Eric Fryer, on the team's back-to-back wins following a seven-game losing streak
"He was pretty filthy. He had fastball, slider working. The slider was moving a lot. He was throwing it for strikes and commanding it, so it was tough to face." -- Phillies right fielder Aaron Altherr, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Martinez
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Martinez is the first Cardinals pitcher since Adam Wainwright (2010) to string together four consecutive starts with at least eight strikeouts.
Pivetta picked off two Cardinals. He is the first Phillies right-hander to pick off two batters in a game since Freddie Toliver did it against the Cubs on Aug. 20, 1987.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: It will be interesting to see if Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez is back in the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Hernandez, who arguably has been the team's best player this year, tweaked his left side throwing Friday and did not play Saturday. It was just the third game Hernandez had not started this season. First pitch is slated for 2:15 p.m. ET.
Cardinals: Wainwright will be looking to bounce back from his worst start of the season when he faces the Phillies in Sunday's 1:15 p.m. CT series finale. Following a stretch in which he allowed one earned run over four starts, Wainwright gave up nine in 3 2/3 innings against the Reds on Tuesday.