- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Desperate to break out of a slump, Marcell Ozuna resorted to changing lumber.

The move worked wonders for the St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder.

Using a bat borrowed from teammate Jose Martinez, Ozuna hit a tiebreaking two-run single, and Michael Wacha won his fourth straight start as the Cardinals beat the New York Mets 9-1 on Wednesday night.

“I needed to get my feeling back,” Ozuna said. “This made feel a lot better.”

Jedd Gyorko added a two-run homer for St. Louis, which has won nine of 11.

Ozuna had just one hit in his previous 24 at-bats prior to a bases-loaded single to cap a three-run third inning that put the Cardinals in front to stay 3-1. Acquired from the Marlins on Dec. 14 for four prospects, the outfielder had struck out 23 times in his previous 20 games. He finished 1 for 4.

“I’m going to keep using it,” Ozuna said of the red bat. “I felt so much better at the plate today.”

Martinez was glad to share the wealth.

“He’s trying to get out of a slump and he’s just trying to go well,” Martinez. “You’re always good to new teammates. I’m just so happy for him. Good at bats. That’s going to help us a lot.”

Ozuna and Martinez actually shared the bat during the game.

“I just took it from the bat boy - and said ‘let’s go,’” Martinez said.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was happy to see his slugger break loose.

“This is something for him to build off of,” Matheny said. “It was big. This should trend towards good things in the future. Marcell is getting there.”

Wacha (4-1) gave up one run on five hits over six innings. He struck out eight and walked one. He is 4-0 with 2.78 ERA over his last four starts. His only loss this season came in a 6-2 setback to the Mets on March 31.

“I was able to put the fastball where I wanted to,” Wacha said. “Got some sweet misses.”

Wacha was just as proud of his safety squeeze bunt that brought in Paul DeJong and pushed the lead to 4-1 in the fourth. Wacha also scored two runs in the game, “for the first time since high school,” he joked.

Kolten Wong and DeJong had two hits each for the Cardinals, and Dexter Fowler drove in two runs.

Steven Matz (1-2) gave up seven runs, just three earned, over 3 1/3 innings. He surrendered five hits and fell to 0-3 with an 8.49 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals.

“I’m really frustrated, I want to go out there and pitch well and I’m not doing that,” Matz said. “To come out of the game like that in the fourth inning, is really frustrating.”

New York manager Mickey Callaway was disappointed with the short outing.

“I don’t deal with expectations,” Callaway said. “I deal with what I see.”

The Mets have dropped six of 10 after an 11-1 start to the season.

St. Louis added four runs in the fourth on two hits and two errors. Wacha brought in Paul DeJong with a squeeze bunt. Dexter Fowler drew a bases-loaded walk for a 5-1 cushion.

Gyorko’s 100th career homer, in the fifth off Corey Oswalt, pushed the lead to 9-1.

Jay Bruce had given the Mets a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the top of the third.


Mets: LHP Jason Vargas will make his season debut on Saturday at San Diego. Vargas had been on the disabled list with a broken bone in his non-throwing hand suffered on March 17 when he tried to catch a line drive in a minor league game. He allowed three runs in four innings of a rehab appearance for Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday.

Cardinals: INF Matt Carpenter was given the night off. He is in an 0-for-6 skid. Carpenter is hitting .167 with two home runs, 10 RBI in 21 games. … RHP Sam Tuivailala begins a 30-day injury rehabilitation stint at Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. He has been out with a left knee strain suffered on April 9.


St. Louis outfielder Tommy Pham was removed in the third inning after suffering a head laceration while warming up in the underbelly of the stadium prior to his second at bat of the game.

“I was in the cages working on my swing,” Pham said. “My barrel went back and hit the band of this contraption and drilled me in the head. When blood started gushing down, I had to get that fixed.”

Pham said no stitches were needed. He passed concussion protocol and had his head wrapped in a big bandage, but was able to joke about it after the game.

“It damaged my modeling career,” Pham said. “We’ll see how many ladies still like me.”


Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 3.29) will face St. Louis RHP Carlos Martinez (2-1, 1.42) in the final game of the three-game series Thursday. The Mets are 5-0 in Syndergaard’s starts. Martinez has not allowed a run his last 18 innings.

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