St. Louis Cardinals' Cooney gets first major-league win

By Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Tim Cooney delivers a pitch to the Atlanta Braves in the second inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 24, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
1 of 5 | St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Tim Cooney delivers a pitch to the Atlanta Braves in the second inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 24, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- With often-injured Jaime Garcia on the mend, St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Tim Cooney knows his time in the majors might be coming to an end.

But if he returns to the minor leagues next week, Cooney will do so with a big league win in his suitcase.


Cruising through seven innings against the short-handed Atlanta Braves Friday night, Cooney earned his first major league win in his sixth start with a 4-2 verdict at sold-out Busch Stadium.

Throwing 53 of his 74 pitches for strikes, Cooney (1-0) gave up just five hits and two runs, walking none and fanning five. Cooney went to three balls on only one of the 25 hitters he faced and threw no more than 15 pitches in any inning.


Moments after Kevin Siegrist fanned left fielder Jonny Gomes with the tying runs on base to wrap up his fifth save, Cooney's teammates drenched him with a water shower.

"Pretty awesome," the 24-year old Cooney said. "When it was getting towards the end of the game, I really wanted the team to win. But when I saw my name in the win column, it was pretty cool."

After making it through just 2 1/3 innings in his major-league debut April 30 against Philadelphia, Cooney was recalled to start July 2 against San Diego. In his five starts since then, Cooney's pitched to a 2.48 ERA over 29 innings.

This outing marked his longest start in the majors as he took advantage of a lineup weakened by Atlanta's pregame trade of third baseman Juan Uribe -- scheduled to hit fifth -- and infielder Kelly Johnson to the New York Mets.

"We lost two guys who are good guys in the clubhouse," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Uribe and Johnson. "They're both widely respected around the league. But this is what we signed up for. There's always the chance we have to make a trade."


Meanwhile, St. Louis (62-34) spent the day playing add-on -- both in the win column and to its roster. After acquiring reliever Steve Cishek from Miami earlier in the day, the Cardinals upped their home record to 35-12 by dint of early offense.

Center fielder Randal Grichuk put St. Louis ahead for good with a 421-foot, two-run homer off rookie lefty Manny Banuelos (1-2) in the second. It was the 11th homer for Grichuk, who jumped on a first-pitch fastball and drilled it into the last row of the lower deck in left field.

After shortstop Jhonny Peralta upped the Cardinals' lead to 3-0 in the third with a two-out RBI single, Grichuk made it 4-0 an inning later. After singling and stealing second, he sped around third and scored on first baseman Mark Reynolds' single to right-center, barely beating the throw from right fielder Nick Markakis with an artful slide to the plate's back side.

"I wanted to be aggressive in the strike zone," Grichuk said of his approach at the plate, "and I got two pitches to handle in the middle of the plate."


Banuelos left after five-plus innings, yielding six hits and four runs with three walks and three strikeouts.

Center fielder Cameron Maybin was responsible for both Atlanta runs in the sixth, doubling home shortstop Andrelton Simmons with one out and speeding home on a two-out wild pitch.

But it wasn't enough to keep St. Louis from tacking on to its major-league-high win total while giving Cooney a reward for a solid month of filling in for Garcia.

"I've been getting better command with each start," Cooney said. "My fastball command tonight was the best. When you can locate the ball, good things happen." NOTES: St. Louis LHP Kevin Siegrist made his major-league-high 50th appearance Friday night. ... Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman (wrist) went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs during a rehab game Friday in the Gulf Coast League. Freeman has been disabled since June 23. ... The Cardinals transferred RHP Matt Belisle (right elbow) from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL to make room for RHP Steve Cishek, whom they acquired in a trade Friday.

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