All Mike Redmond wanted Jarred Cosart to do Tuesday night was to try to match Adam Wainwright with as many scoreless innings as he could.
Cosart did the National League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game one better. He put up seven zeroes to Wainwright’s six, guiding the Marlins to a 3-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals in front of 22,703 at Marlins Park.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s RBI single and a two-out, two-run home run by Donovan Solano off the left-field foul pole in the fifth inning turned out to be all the offense the Marlins (59-60) needed to beat St. Louis, which entered the day with a half-game lead on the Giants for the final wild-card spot.
Cosart, who missed what would have been his second start for the Marlins last week because of left oblique soreness, gave up only three hits and one walk in his first appearance in 11 days. He struck out three, threw 63 of his 102 pitches for strikes and picked up his first win since he beat the Rangers on July 7.
“You never really know when a guy takes that many days off what you’re going to get, but I think the time off for him was good,” Redmond said. “He threw just enough breaking balls to keep guys off his fastball, some nice changeups, hit his spots. These guys can hit and put up the big number, and he did a nice job shutting them down.”
Bryan Morris and Mike Dunn closed out the ninth as the Marlins gave closer Steve Cishek, who had pitched in four of the previous five games, the night off. The Cardinals (62-56) brought the tying run to the plate with two outs before Dunn recorded the final out. He struck out Matt Adams swinging to pick up his first save of the season and fourth of his career.
It was the 13th shutout of the season for the Marlins, four fewer than the franchise record set in 2010.
But the story Tuesday was Cosart.
“Just wanted to get through healthy,” said Cosart, who said he still felt a little tight. “Obviously, it’s a huge win against a team that’s in front of us in a playoff race against one of the best pitchers in baseball. It’s a great team win.”
Cosart, 24, cruised through the first five innings, retiring 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced before Mark Ellis opened the sixth with a single up the middle. The inning became complicated two batters later when Garrett Jones fumbled a grounder to first, allowing Matt Carpenter to reach base.
The error was Jones’ 11th of the season — three more than any other first baseman in the majors. Cosart, though, recovered and retired Kolten Wong on a fielder’s choice before striking out All-Star Matt Holliday swinging.
Jones bungled another grounder with one out in the seventh but wasn’t charged with an error. Cosart once again worked out of it, retiring Oscar Tavares on a fielder’s choice and getting Tony Cruz to fly out to right.
“We didn’t help him out defensively and made him throw a few extra pitches there in the sixth,” Redmond said. “He was able to bear down, make pitches and get through that seventh, which was huge for us.”
The Marlins looked like they blew a golden opportunity against Wainwright early when they loaded the bases in the first inning with one out but couldn’t scratch across any runs. The National League’s co-leader in wins struck out Jones and Saltalamacchia swinging to end the frame — each on slow breaking balls.
But Miami finally broke through in the fifth when Casey McGehee led off with what looked to be a line-drive single to left, but he stretched it into a double with some hustle. Two batters later, Saltalamacchia singled to right to put the Marlins ahead. Solano — a player the Cardinals once gave up on — then struck for his second home run of the season off Wainwright, who has been the hardest pitcher to homer off of in baseball.
“I thought for sure that ball was going to go foul,” said Solano, whose other home run this season came off American League strikeout leader David Price. “I’m glad it happened that.”
Said Redmond: “That was a big at-bat. Donovan, he’s hit two home runs this year. I think you can book him for every ace in the league from here on out.”