- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - It was another day of firsts for Byron Buxton.

The Minnesota Twins heralded rookie tripled for his first career hit. That was after the 21-year-old Buxton escaped injury after slamming into the wall chasing a ball from center field in a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.

“I’d run through a brick wall if somebody told me to,” said Buxton, the second overall pick in 2012. “That’s just how I am.”

Neither the hit, nor the hit he took surprised his team. On Sunday, Buxton made his major league debut and scored the game-winning run in the ninth against Texas.

“It’s not surprising his first hit was a triple,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s got an average now, he got a nice souvenir and it’s going to be fun to watch if he keeps hitting balls in gaps.”

Buxton, who has batted ninth both games, said he knew he could get a triple before getting to second base.

“It’s a big relief,” he said. “The first hit usually starts things rolling. I’m glad I’ve gotten it out of the way.”

Describing Buxton’s defensive skills, Molitor invoked Kirby Puckett and Torii Hunter.

“I’ve seen him play enough to where I know he’s not intimidated by fences,” Molitor said. “He obviously got there but running full speed knowing you’re going to have a collision is not the easiest play to make.”

Buxton scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian Dozier that cut the gap to a run. He ran full-force into the wall, but didn’t stay down long, after just missing a running catch on Grichuk’s triple leading off the third.

“I got my glove on it,” Buxton said. “I felt it hit my glove and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground.”

Yadier Molina homered for the first time this season and John Lackey worked eight strong innings for the Cardinals, who won their fourth in a row.

Mark Reynolds connected three pitches ahead of Molina in the fourth, giving the Cardinals back-to-back homers for the first time this season.

Randal Grichuk tripled, singled and scored for St. Louis, which is 42-21 overall and 25-7 at home - both major league bests. The Cardinals have won 15 of 20.

Molina dropped about 20 pounds in the offseason, reporting at 220 pounds, and his power profile has suffered. Manager Mike Matheny said before the game the lack of a long ball likely bothered Molina more than fans or teammates.

He averaged 16 homers over a three-year period from 2011-13 before dropping off to seven last season.

Lackey (5-4) bounced back smartly on six days’ rest after getting torched for 10 earned runs in four innings at Colorado. Lackey, whose start was postponed a day by a rainout Sunday, allowed two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and a walk.

Kevin Siegrist finished for his second save in three chances. Manager Mike Matheny said closer Trevor Rosenthal, who leads the NL with 21 saves, was unavailable due to tightness.

Twins rookie starter Trevor May (4-5) gave up a total of four homers his first 11 starts. He allowed three runs in five innings, ending a run of five consecutive starts of six or more.

“It’s a different game over here in the National League,” Molitor said. “You get pulled a little earlier than what your stuff might indicate.”

UP NEXT

Kyle Gibson is 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA his last three starts, all at home. The Cardinals are averaging 6.3 runs for Michael Wacha, among the best in the league.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (forearm strain) remains on track to return from the 15-day DL on time June 23.

Twins: Hunter returned from a two-game suspension was 0 for 3.

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