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The St. Louis Cardinals have struggled to get that one big hit they have needed recently [url=http://www.falconsfootballauthentics.com]Atlanta Falcons Jerseys Womens[/url] , particularly during a three-game weekend sweep by Atlanta.

Yadier Molina came through early in a key situation, sparking the Cardinals to a play-from-ahead victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Molina hit a two-run single in the first inning and homered, helping the Cardinals end a four-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday night.

”Yadie comes through and he’s got a knack for that and has for a long time,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ”Then the other guys just kept coming.”

The Cardinals played from behind most of their series against the Braves, but jumped on the Diamondbacks early.

Molina hit a two-run single in the Cardinals’ four-run first inning against Robbie Ray (3-1) and hit his 12th homer off the Arizona left-hander in the sixth.

Jedd Gyorko also homered and had two RBIs to end Ray’s nine-game winning streak, dating to last season.

Martinez (5-4) allowed two runs on six hits and lined a double. Bud Norris worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances.

”We really wanted to come here and win the first one,” Molina said. ”We had a good plan against their pitcher and we executed it.”

Paul Goldschmidt had four hits and an RBI for the Diamondbacks, who were not able to overcome the early deficit for their fourth straight loss.

”We got too far behind too early to play catch up,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

Martinez snapped a three-game losing streak his last start, holding Cleveland to two runs on six hits in six innings. The right-hander was staked to a four-run lead before taking the mound and gave up Jake Lamb’s run-scoring single in the bottom half.

Goldschmidt lined a run-scoring single in the fifth inning off Martinez, who struck out seven.

”We talk about being sharp in the first inning and I thought he was,” Matheny said. ”He still had a couple things happen in a hurry, but he did a great job of limiting the damage.”

Ray returned from the DL (strained right oblique) to throw six scoreless innings in a 2-1 win over Miami on Wednesday.

The Arizona left-hander had a shaky start to his second post-DL outing, allowing four runs on five hits in the first inning.

Ray struck out six while retiring 12 of the next 13 hitters before Molina and Gyorko connected on consecutive solo homers to put the Cardinals up 6-2 in the sixth inning.

Ray allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings in his 100th career appearance.

””I felt like I was making my pitches [url=http://www.ravensfootballauthentics.com]Baltimore Ravens Jerseys Womens[/url] ,” Ray said. ”They were just putting good swings on them.”

LOVULLO AND MOLINA

Lovullo and Molina nearly came to blows the last time their teams met in April after the Diamondbacks manager uttered a profanity Molina thought was directed at him while arguing with an umpire. Molina charged Lovullo during the argument and both were suspended a game for their actions.

Lovullo said the profanity was not directed at Molina after the April game and met with the Cardinals catcher during batting practice on Monday to patch things up.

”Everything is in the past,” Molina said. ”I have a bunch of respect for him and the organization, so everything is good.”

POLLOCK RETURNS

The Diamondbacks got a huge boost before the game, when center fielder A.J. Pollock was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list. The former All-Star had been out since May 14 with a broken left thumb and wasn’t expected to be back so soon, but was in the lineup batting fourth.

Pollock finished 0 for 4 and scored a run.

CARDINALS MOVES

The Cardinals place OF Dexter Fowler on paternity leave so he could be with his wife, Aliya, for the birth of their second child. St. Louis recalled rookie OF Tyler O’Neill from Triple-A Memphis to fill his roster spot. O’Neill started in right field and batted third, going 1 for 4.

TRAINER’S TABLE

Diamondbacks 2B Ketel Marte returned as a replacement in the seventh inning after missing Sunday’s game to a right hamstring cramp suffered Saturday against San Francisco.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke is 12-5 with a 3.42 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 19 career games against the Cardinals headed into Tuesday’s game. He’ll face RHP Jack Flaherty, who will be making his first career start against Arizona.

Chicago Cubs left-hander Jose Quintana did not want to be leave the game his last time out, but he did. Cincinnati Reds right-hander Luis Castillo does not want the ball to keep leaving the ballpark against him, but it does.

The NL Central rival Cubs and Reds continue their four-game weekend series at Great American Ball Park with an interesting matchup of two pitchers who have done well against their Friday night opponent yet are struggling of late.

Quintana (6-5) was nearly flawless his last time out against the Reds, limiting them to a Scott Schebler single over seven innings while striking out seven and walking four during a 10-0 victory in the second game of a May 19 doubleheader.

In the first game of that doubleheader, Castillo (4-8) didn’t get the decision as the Reds won 5-4 in 11 innings, but he held the Cubs to one run on six hits despite walking six in five innings. He is 0-0 in two career starts against Chicago with an impressive 0.82 ERA while limiting them to eight hits over 11 innings.

Similarly [url=http://www.billsfootballauthentics.com]Buffalo Bills Jerseys Womens[/url] , Quintana is very good against the Reds, going 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA while striking out 16 in 16 2-3 innings over three career starts. He could use another good start Friday, as the Reds ran their winning streak to four games they’ve won seven of nine by overcoming a two-run deficit to beat Chicago 6-2 on Thursday night.

That’s what’s good for the two starting pitchers. Here’s what’s bad.

Quintana is winless in his last three starts, and he was lifted Sunday from a scoreless game against the Cardinals after two runners reached in the sixth. They came around to score against the Cubs bullpen, and Quintana ended up taking the loss as St. Louis went on to win 5-0.

“All the time, I wanted to keep going,” said Quintana, who was removed after throwing 86 pitches. “I feel like I pitched really good. It’s a tough game, zero-zero.”

Most of the Reds’ top batters struggle against Quintana

Eugenio Suarez is 1-for-9 (.111), Scooter Gennett is 1-for-8 (.125) and Joey Votto is 2-for-8 (.250).

Castillo also hasn’t been able to win lately, losing his last four starts while giving up an alarming six home runs and 16 earned runs over 20 2-3 innings. His velocity is down from his rookie season a year ago, and his ERA is way up from 3.12 to 5.77.

Too many of his pitches have been going up and out of the ballpark and he leads the NL with 17 homers allowed while going winless since May 24.

In his last start Saturday, a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Castillo gave up two homers among his six hits allowed over five innings [url=http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com]Carolina Panthers Jerseys Womens[/url] , one of them on a 93-mph fastball to Elias Diaz. A year ago, Castillo often touched 100 mph with a four-seam fastball that averaged 97.4 mph.

“I’m trying to do my best,” Castillo said through an interpreter. “Every time I go out there, I give up like one or two home runs. I really don’t know what’s happening right now. I’m just going to keep working down in the bullpen (between starts).”

Castillo’s slump, and his apparent velocity drop, are concerning to the Reds because he was 3-0 in his previous four starts before beginning his slide.

Castillo’s low ERA against the Cubs is reflected in some of their top hitters lack of success against him. Javier Baez is 0-for-5 (.000) and Anthony Rizzo is 1-for-6 (.167).?

The Cubs didn’t do much offensively Thursday, either, as right-hander Matt Harvey (2-5) made the best of his eight starts with the Reds, holding Chicago to two runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked only one.

“He was really good. He just shut them down,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He’s getting better and better.”

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (5-7) breezed through the first five innings without giving up a run but was lifted after walking Suarez with the bases loaded to force in a run. Left-handed reliever Randy Rosario promptly gave up the first career grand slam by the left-handed hitting Jesse Winker, and the Reds added one more run in the inning.

“Some really great at-bats in the inning,” Riggleman said. “And the big hit speaks for itself.”

The loss dropped the Cubs one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.