ST. LOUIS — – Tyler O’Neill hit a three-run homer to break an eight-run tie and St. Louis Cardinals rallied past the Atlanta Braves 6-3 on Sunday night.
Tommy Edman pulled the Cardinals even further with a leadoff homeoff in the eighth against AJ Minter (5-4), who also gave up O’Neill’s double to right-center field. Lars Nootbaar went deep with two outs in the sixth for Braves shortstop Jake Odorizzi’s first hit.
O’Neill came on in the seventh inning and delivered the decisive hit his first time — right after Minter struck out sluggers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado with two runners on board. The gathering of St. Louis was aided by third baseman Austin Riley’s error.
“Hitting homers is always fun, but in a situation like this, I just wanted to do my job and enjoy it,” O’Neill said. “See a good pitch to hit, see it fly (out) that way, it’s all good feelings.”
O’Neill also drew a game-ending walk Saturday in a 6-5 victory for the Cardinals, who have won 12 of 15. They sit six games back of second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.
O’Neill hit just .194 in July but is slowly returning to form.
“Everybody knows what talent he has, what kind of tools he has,” the St. Louis pitcher said. Louis Adam Wainwright. “He’s just a big part of our team. It’s good to see him back again.”
The manager of St. Louis, Oliver Marmol, has stood by O’Neill throughout his struggles.
“He’s swinging with more confidence,” Marmol said. “We feel like he’s trending in the right direction.”
It was O’Neill’s third win of the season since July 23.
“I’m just trying to stay in the strike zone, trust my ability there,” O’Neill said. “Not much good will happen outside the (strike) zone.
Atlanta remained three games behind the first place New York Mets in the NL East.
Dansby Swanson put Atlanta ahead 3-2 with a three-run homer off Ryan Helsley in the seventh. But the Braves couldn’t hang on and lost two of three in St. Louis. Louis after winning their previous five series.
Atlanta rookie Michael Harris II went 4-for-4.
Helsley (9-1) struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless ninth for his 13th save.
Nootbaar hit a line drive down the left-field line to break a scoreless tie in the sixth, and Odorizzi never struck out again. Three more straight hits followed and Nolan Arenado followed to right with an RBI single.
Eddie Rosario and Harris singled in the seventh off Wainwright before Swanson went deep. Wainwright was charged with two runs and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
The 40-year-old right-hander made his 18th career start on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, the most of any active pitcher.
Odorizzi, acquired from Houston on Aug. 1 for reliever Will Smith, gave up two runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings in his fifth start with the Braves.
“There’s no reason why we should take our heads off this game,” Minter said. “This is as close as you can get to a World Series game. It’s just going to make us a lot better.”
The start of the race was delayed 59 minutes due to rain.
Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina made their 322nd start together, second in major league history behind the Detroit batter of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan, who amassed a combined 324 starts from 1963-75.
Braves: I Ronald Acuna Jr. was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight night to rest his injured right knee.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty is likely to make his fifth and final rehab start Wednesday at Triple-A Memphis. He has been sidelined since June 27 due to a right shoulder strain.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (12-4, 2.52 ERA) faces Colorado RHP Jose Urena (2-5, 5.98) in the first game of a three-game series Tuesday in Atlanta. Fried is 1-1 with a 2.86 ERA in four career appearances against the Rockies.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (10-10, 3.35) faces Reds RHP Chase Anderson (0-0, 0.00) in the opener of a three-game series Monday in Cincinnati. Mikolas is 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA in 14 games against the Reds and hasn’t won in Cincinnati since April 4, 2018.