Wacha pitches 6 shutout innings as Cardinals beat Miami 4-1

Wacha
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Michael Wacha #52 of the St. Louis Cardinals poses during Photo Day on Monday, February 20, 2017 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Michael Wacha

By STEVEN WINE AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) — Michael Wacha pitched six scoreless innings in his return to the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation Monday, and they broke a three-game losing streak by beating Miami 4-1.

Wacha (4-2), who was briefly demoted to the bullpen, benefited from three double plays and a pickoff in his first start since May 22. The former All-Star allowed five hits, struck out four and lowered his ERA to 5.63.

Jordan Hicks worked around a leadoff single in the ninth and struck out two for his 13th save.

The Cardinals totaled only four hits but scored three unearned runs in the sixth, when catcher Jorge Alfaro made a wild throw on a sacrifice bunt. Sandy Alcantara (3-6), facing his former team for the first time, struggled through five-plus innings and allowed four runs, but only one was earned.

St. Louis bounced back after being swept by the Chicago Cubs in a three-game weekend series. The Marlins, saddled with the National League’s worst record, have scored nine runs while losing five games in a row.

The Cardinals scored the first run in the fourth on doubles by Marcell Ozuna and Yairo Muñoz.

After their first two batters reached in the sixth, Kolten Wong laid down a bunt, and both runners scored when Alfaro threw the ball down the right field line. Harrison Bader followed with a sacrifice fly.

Marlins rookie Harold Ramirez had three hits to hike his average to .330.

TAKE A BREAK

Cardinals SS Paul DeJong was given the night off. It was the first game he has missed.

FIRST-HAND LOOK

Derek Jeter watched JJ Bleday have a big night at the Southeastern Conference tournament, which may be one reason the Marlins took the Vanderbilt outfielder with the fourth pick in the draft last week.

“I only saw one game, and he was 5 for 5,” said Jeter, the Marlins’ CEO. “I told him everything is downhill from this point forward.”

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson (4-3, 3.94) is scheduled to start Tuesday. He has an ERA of 2.19 over his past four outings, and the Cardinals have won each game.

Marlins: RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 9.00) will be recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to make his first start of the season as a replacement for LHP Caleb Smith (left hip inflammation). It’ll be the first time one of the Marlins’ five starters to begin the season has missed a turn.