ST. LOUIS -- On a night where St. Louis Cardinals fans got to see the much-anticipated first major league start for rookie Alex Reyes, the Oakland Athletics spoiled the party, thanks to their pitching.
Starter Zach Neal and three relievers combined to retire the last 17 batters they faced Saturday as Oakland notched a 3-2 win at Busch Stadium.
Neal recorded his first quality start in his five big league outings, going six innings and throwing a career-high 91 pitches. He allowed six hits and two runs, one earned, with no walks and three strikeouts.
Daniel Coulombe (2-1) struck out three of the four men he faced to get the win. Liam Hendriks fanned the only two batters he faced and closer Ryan Madson pitched a clean ninth for his 26th save in 32 chances.
Despite numerous injuries to the starting rotation that have forced the A's (56-73) to push three relievers into their present rotation, they have allowed just eight runs in their last five games.
"We're just a solid group of guys that put our nose down and work," Neal said. "I don't think we get fazed by much, and I know I take a lot of pride in moving on from one start to the next."
Oakland's offense managed just four hits against five St. Louis pitchers, but it did just enough to scratch out the win, with Khris Davis at the center of both the A's rallies.
Davis drew a bases-loaded walk off reliever Zach Duke in the fifth, forcing Bruce Maxwell home to cut the Cardinals' lead to 2-1. Davis then started the winning outburst in the eighth with a one-out single off Matt Bowman (2-5).
Ryon Healy doubled Davis to third, forcing Bowman out in favor of closer Seung Hwan Oh as St. Louis manager Mike Matheny tried for a five-out save.
Max Muncy spoiled those plans with a hard grounder to first that Brandon Moss flagged with a dive to his left. But after making a nice play, Moss then opted to throw home instead of taking a sure out at first, and Davis beat the throw to tie the game.
Moss' decision may have been influenced by instruction Davis received from third base coach Ron Washington.
"The play was to see the ball through the middle, stay if it was on the corners," Davis said. "Once (Moss) dove, I thought it would be a good time to go. Washington told me to go ... it was baseball instincts right there."
Brett Eibner lifted a sacrifice fly to center, plating Healy with the tie-breaking run and enabling Oakland to win for just the third time in its last 14 road games.
The A's couldn't do much with Reyes, who gave up just two hits and a run in 4 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out four. But they at least worked counts and drove him up to 89 pitches before Matheny hooked him an out shy of qualifying for a win.
"It was actually a good job of pitching, no doubt about it," Matheny said of Reyes. "He was overthrowing a bit, especially early. I thought he did an impressive job of using his secondary pitches to get out of trouble, which is something you don't normally see from a kid's first start."
Randal Grichuk's career-high 18th homer with two outs in the second gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Healy booted Stephen Piscotty's two-out grounder in the third, scoring Greg Garcia to make it 2-0.
St. Louis (68-60) could have given itself more cushion in the fourth when Jhonny Peralta and Grichuk singled. But Neal induced a 6-3 double play from Jeremy Hazelbaker and fanned Reyes.
That was it for the Cardinals' offense as they went quickly and quietly in the last five innings. Despite the result, they remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Miami for the National League's second wild-card spot as the Marlins lost 1-0 to San Diego.
As for Oakland, it enjoyed some rare success as the visiting team, thanks to an unlikely rotation that keeps recording outs.
"You don't expect that many injuries in your rotation," Melvin said, "but guys have been getting opportunities and making the most of them."
NOTES: St. Louis RHP Mike Leake (shingles) missed his scheduled start Saturday night and there's no timetable for his return. Leake is 9-9 with a 4.56 ERA in 25 starts. ... Oakland LHP Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) had to pull out of a rehab game for Triple-A Nashville on Friday night. Manager Bob Melvin said Doolittle could return to the mound in a few days. ... The Cardinals inducted Joe Torre, Chris Carpenter, Terry Moore and Sam Breadon into their Hall of Fame Saturday.