ST. LOUIS (AP) — It took 14 pitches before Jack Flaherty finally got Justin Turner to ground into a double play that ended the first inning Wednesday night.
Flaherty didn't think such an early tussle was all that important to his entire outing, but his manager begged to differ.
"It was a double win," Mike Shildt said after Flaherty pitched the St. Louis Cardinals to a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It enabled him to settle in and give us a really quality start."
Yadier Molina and Marcell Ozuna homered, and Flaherty tossed six effective innings to help the Cardinals win their fourth in a row. They've outscored their opponents 19-6 during the winning streak and will go for a four-game sweep of Los Angeles on Thursday.
Max Muncy and Joc Pederson homered for the Dodgers, who have lost three straight after a five-game winning streak.
Paul DeJong had three hits and drove in a run with a triple in the sixth. DeJong extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games. He is tied with San Francisco's Brandon Crawford for the longest current streak in the National League.
Flaherty (1-0) gave up three hits and one run in his 99-pitch effort. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter. He has permitted one run over 11 innings in his last two starts.
His day started with a 23-pitch first inning that ended with the double play. He looked to the sky and breathed a sigh of relief after retiring Turner.
"They were all fastballs, sliders," Flaherty said. "I kept throwing the ball. I (thought), just put it in play."
Turner, who fouled off five consecutive 3-2 offerings, hit the ball right to DeJong at shortstop for an easy double play.
"You see 14 pitches off a starter in the first inning and try and get that count up, it helps," Turner said. "But you don't want it to end in a double play."
Molina, who drove in three runs, homered off Kenta Maeda (2-1) in the sixth to push the lead to a 5-1. Ozuna, who had three hits, added a two-run drive in the eighth.
The home run served as a bit of redemption for Ozuna, who fell face-first on the warning track after climbing the left field fence while trying to make a catch Tuesday.
"When you make a mistake, you've got to do better the next day," Ozuna said.
Maeda gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Pederson's one-out homer in the sixth brought the Dodgers to 2-1. Los Angeles has gone deep in 11 of 13 games this season.
"I feel that we're taking good at-bats at times," manager Dave Roberts said. "We really didn't have a whole lot of opportunities."
The Cardinals and Dodgers have played each other 2,074 times since 1892. The series is even at 1,029-1,029 with 16 ties.
KERSHAW ON TRACK
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make his season debut Sunday or Monday, according to Roberts.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner, bothered by shoulder inflammation during spring training, completed his second effective rehab appearance Tuesday night for Double-A Tulsa against Springfield. He went six innings and allowed two runs on five hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
"He felt good coming out of it," Roberts said. "He's lined up for Sunday or Monday, whichever makes the most sense."
Dodgers: Placed C Russell Martin on the 10-day injured list with lower back inflammation and recalled C Rocky Gale from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Gale was 2 for 6 with three runs scored at Oklahoma City. He went 0 for 2 as a September call-up last season.
Cardinals: Ozuna was in the starting lineup after he tumbled off the outfield fence Tuesday when a long drive came up short of the wall.
Los Angeles RHP Walker Buehler (1-0, 6.75 ERA) will face RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 1.54) in the series finale Thursday afternoon. Buehler has not allowed a run in two career starts against St. Louis, yielding five hits over 15 innings with 18 strikeouts. Wacha walked a career-high eight in a 6-4 loss to San Diego on Saturday.