- Associated Press - Thursday, April 5, 2018

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Robbie Ray was ready to make a new memory in St. Louis.

The left-hander struck out nine over six innings and the bullpen closed out a two-hitter, helping the Diamondbacks spoil the St. Louis Cardinals’ home opener 3-1 on Thursday night.

Arizona improved to 6-1 for the second straight season and tied a franchise record for its best seven-game start. The team was also 6-1 in 2000.

St. Louis dropped its first home opener since 2015.

Ray (2-0) gave up one run on two hits and five walks. He was making his first appearance at Busch Stadium since being knocked out of a game by a line drive off his head on July 28, 2017.

“I kind of just put it behind me,” Ray said. “It’s something that happened and it’s over. It was just another game.”

Ray took the hard liner off the bat of Luke Voit just below his ear and left the stadium on a stretcher. He went on the concussion list from July 29 until Aug. 23.

Ray returned to the scene and took control early, allowing just one hit over the first three innings.

The walks were a problem, but he wriggled out of jams in the second and fourth innings with back-to-back strikeouts of Paul DeJong and Yairo Munoz.

“You hold this team to two hits on (their) opening night, that’s pretty special,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He made big pitches when he had to. I don’t think he has a back-down mentality. He stood on his stuff.”

David Peralta capped off a two-run second inning with an RBI single. He pushed the lead to 3-0 with a double in the fourth.

Yadier Molina had a run-scoring double in the fourth for the Cardinals, who have lost two of three.

Brad Boxberger picked up his third save in three chances. Four Arizona relievers were perfect except for an error by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth.

“The pitching has set the tone,” said Arizona third baseman Daniel Descalso, who tripled and reached base three times. “That was the story last year and it’s the same thing going forward this year.”

Adam Wainwright (0-1) came off the 10-day disabled list to make the start for St. Louis. He gave up four hits and three runs over 3 2/3 innings. Wainwright struck out three and walked four. He had been slowed since pulling his hamstring late in spring training.

“I was getting underneath most of my stuff as the game wore on and wasn’t making the good adjustments as often as I needed to,” Wainwright said.

Ray, who went 8-1 in 15 road starts last season, also drove in Descalso with a sacrifice fly for the first run of the game.

“Guys were having a tough time picking up a very good slider and that led to quite a few strikeouts,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Ray. “His elevated fastball was good, too.”

Chris Owings had three hits and reached base four times for the Diamondbacks, who won their fourth in a row. He has hit safely in six successive games.

“I thought it was a great win for us,” Lovullo said.

Goldschmidt broke out of a 1-for-20 skid with a single in the sixth.


St. Louis Hall of Fame right-hander Bob Gibson threw out the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Tim McCarver. The duo was celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gibson’s 1968 season in which he went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA.


Diamondbacks: INF Jake Lamb remains on the 10-day disabled list with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. He suffered the injury diving for a ball on Monday.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty was sent to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Wainwright on the roster. Flaherty struck out nine and gave up one run in five innings of a 5-4 loss in Milwaukee on Tuesday.


St. Louis RHP Michael Wacha (0-1, 7.71) will face RHP Zach Greinke (0-0, 1.59) on Saturday in the second game of the three-game set. Snow is in the forecast for weekend.


More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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