MILWAUKEE - Matt Holliday swears he wasn’t trying to hit a home run. Cards’ manager Mike Matheny said Holliday was just attacking a zone.
Whatever it was, Holliday’s two-out ninth inning bomb capped the Cardinals’ improbable 7-6 comeback in the first game of a pivotal three-game series leading up to the All-Star break.
With two outs and no one on and the game deadlocked for the last three innings, it would seem logical the big slugger would try an-all-or-nothing swing against Francisco Rodrqiuez.
“I was just trying to put a good swing on it,” the massive left fielder said. “I was hitting the ball hard all night.”
Holliday, who was just 1-8 against Rodriquez in his career, laughed when he was asked if that was on his mind. “Eight at bats over 11 years? You think I keep track of something like that?”
Matheny was very subdued after the Cards’ win, apparently trying to keep it all in perspective as the Cards would be right back here less than 12 hours later for another crucial ball game. But he heaped praise on the “grit and determination” his club displayed.
“I could kind of feel it in the third inning,” he said, elaborating later that once the Cards’ pitchers began to shut down the Brewers, he felt his club could come back. “We got that shutdown inning and I said, ‘There’s a lot of game left.’”
“We had an edge tonight,” he said. “We were having good at bats, hitting the ball hard and taking walks. They were just relentless the way they went about it. You either have heart or you don’t. The heart these guys showed was amazing.”
Matheny credited Nick Greenwood who retired the Brewers without incident in relief of Joe Kelly as the turning point in the game.
“I think Joe was just amped up, trying to do more than maybe he was ready to do. The way the guys have been playing and where we are right now, he wanted to jump right in and contribute. He was trying to do more than he can do but he’s going to be fine. I told him I couldn’t wait to see him in his next start.”
With the win, the Cards move within a game of the NL Central-leading Brewers. Adam Wainwright will face rookie Jimmy Nelson in the 3:10 game.