DeJong helps Cardinals to eighth successive win
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ST. LOUIS — There are times Paul DeJong just shakes his head in wonderment.
The St. Louis rookie infielder, who made his major league debut on May 28, hit his team-leading 17th home run on Saturday night to help the Cardinals push their winning streak to eight games with a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
"I have some of those moments when I look around the stadium and I say to myself, 'Am I really doing this? Is this really happening?'" DeJong said. "It's pretty amazing."
Carlos Martinez (9-9) tossed six solid innings and also drove in a run for the Cardinals, who moved within percentage points with the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
Brandon Phillips homered for Atlanta, which lost its fifth in a row.
The eight-game run is the longest for St. Louis since the Cardinals won eight in a row April 28-May 5, 2015.
DeJong, who hit a home run in his first major league game in Colorado, has 15 homers since June 15.
"He continues to impress us every day," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Offensively and defensively. He's making great adjustments from at-bat to at-bat."
DeJong set a goal at the start of the season to hit 30 home runs, whether it was in the majors or the minors. Or both. His seventh-inning drive on Saturday allowed him to reach that mark. He hit 13 home runs at Triple-A Memphis.
Randal Grichuk also homered for St. Louis, which has scored 68 runs during the eight-game streak. He hit his 15th homer of the season in the second to tie the game 2-all. He also added a double in a three-run outburst in the fifth.
DeJong, who has reached safely in 18 of the last 21 games, led off the seventh a 405-foot blast. He has 41 RBIs in just 64 games.
Martinez gave up three earned runs and seven hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked one. His run-scoring single in the fifth pushed the lead to 4-2. He is 7 for 23 (.304) with runners in scoring position.
Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 11th save in 13 tries. He gave up a two-out bases-loaded single to Freddie Freeman in the ninth before striking out Nick Markakis with two runners in scoring position to end the game.
Tyler Lyons chipped in with two innings of scoreless relief.
Martinez allowed four of the first five hitters to reach safely before settling down.
"I just kept working hard and tried to forget about the bad pitches," Martinez said. "I wanted to concentrate on what's ahead."
Lucas Sims (0-3), in just his third major league start, surrendered four earned runs and 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings.
The Braves have rallied twice in the series to get within one run, but came up short both times.
"These guys are never out of a game and they keep coming at you," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "They give you a hard 27 outs."
Dexter Fowler added two hits for St. Louis and Kolten Wong extended his hitting streak to seven games with a fifth-inning single.
Atlanta jumped to a 2-0 lead on a bases-loaded single by Kurt Suzuki in the first.
"We came close to turning it around," Freeman said. "Hopefully, we can get on the right side of things tomorrow."
The Cardinals' 1987 NL championship team was
Minnesota beat St. Louis in seven games in the 1987 World Series.
Cardinals: INF Jedd Gyorko was a late scratch from Saturday's starting lineup due to right knee soreness. Matheny said Gyorko will likely not start on Sunday, but he will be available for pinch-hitting duty.
RHP Michael Wacha (9-4, 3.70) will face RHP R.A. Dickey (7-7, 4.03) in the finale of the three-game series on Sunday. Wacha is 6-0 in 10 career starts in August, the only active pitcher in the majors with a perfect record in the month with at least 10 starts. Dickey is 3-1 with a 4.38 ERA in six career starts against St. Louis.