SEATTLE (AP) Lars Nootbaar homered on the first pitch of the game, Nolan Gorman added a three-run shot and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Seattle Mariners 7-3 Sunday to prevent a three-game sweep.
Paul DeJong also went deep in his season debut and Jack Flaherty recovered from early trouble to pitch six solid innings with nine strikeouts for St. Louis.
Gorman’s three-run homer to right-center put the Cardinals up 6-3 in the fourth. He has six home runs and an NL-leading 14 two-out RBIs this season. His tiebreaking drive came after second baseman Kolten Wong failed to catch J.P. Crawford’s throw on a double-play attempt after the shortstop fielded a liner from Paul Goldschmidt.
“That’s a big home run,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “And he continues to take big swings for us. I mean, if you look at his homers, they haven’t been just homers down five. He’s putting us ahead and tying up ballgames. He’s taking big swings in big moments.”
Jarred Kelenic homered for the second consecutive day and Ty France had a two-run single for Seattle.
Nootbaar connected on the first pitch from Mariners starter Chris Flexen (0-4).
“That gets all the boys ready to go," Flaherty said.
DeJong had three hits, including a solo homer in the seventh, during his first game this season after returning from the injured list.
Flaherty (2-2) fell behind 3-2 in the second, but held the Mariners to one hit over his final 4 1/3 innings. He walked two and threw 104 pitches.
“We talked about this, as a guy that understands what’s at stake, like putting an end to an inning to get him to go a little deeper and getting us going," Marmol said. "He embraced that and did exactly that.”
The right-hander gave up five hits to extend his streak to 30 games of allowing six hits or fewer. He’s tied with Marcelino Lopez for seventh in major league history. Nolan Ryan is sixth with 31.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Flaherty said when asked about the streak. “That’s good to know.”
Kelenic hit a solo homer in the second, and France delivered a two-run single as Seattle batted around in the inning.
Tyler O'Neill tied it 3-all for the Cardinals with an RBI single in the third.
“I thought it was one of those games where we were going to go back and forth, but the big blow from Gorman, we couldn’t recover from that,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Nootbaar had a chance to meet with his personal baseball hero, Ichiro Suzuki, during the series. The two talked about Japan’s WBC championship, which Nootbaar helped the team win last month. Suzuki, a longtime Seattle star, is a special assistant to the chairman with the Mariners.
Cardinals newcomer Willson Contreras was tossed in the fifth for barking at the umpire as he walked back to the dugout after a swinging strikeout. Contreras smashed his bat, upset at two called strikes earlier in the plate appearance. It was his seventh career ejection.
DeJong went 3 for 4. He missed the first 21 games this season after injuring his back during spring training. To make room on the roster, INF Taylor Motter was designated for assignment.
Cardinals: LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 4.84 ERA) starts Monday in the first of four games at San Francisco. Montgomery gave up career high-tying seven runs and 10 hits in his last appearance, an 8-7 loss to Arizona.
Mariners: RHP Logan Gilbert (1-1, 3.57) takes the mound Tuesday at Philadelphia to start a nine-game road trip.
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