ATLANTA (AP) Greg Garcia couldn’t believe his pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning set a major league record.
He assumed the Cardinals already had the mark with two pinch-hit homers earlier in the game.
The Cardinals became the first team with three pinch-hit home runs in a game and rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves 7-4 Friday night.
Rookie Aledmys Diaz got his first career homer to break a tie as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Garcia and rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker also had pinch-hit homers in the Cardinals’ first win.
“Two wasn’t a record?” Garcia asked. “Oh my gosh. That’s very hard to believe. … I’ve never even heard of that.”
Hazelbaker said players were wondering about a possible record after the first two pinch-hit homers.
“In the dugout, we were thinking, `What happens if GG (Garcia) gets one here?'” Hazelbaker said. “Sure enough, he got a good one. It was a pretty exciting time. To pull out the win made it even sweeter.”
St. Louis, swept in its opening three-game series at Pittsburgh, avoided its first 0-4 start since 1997.
The homer by Diaz into the left field seats came on the second pitch from left-hander Eric O’Flaherty (0-2).
“That was big,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, adding “that gave us a chance to get to our bullpen and try to shut the door.”
Matheny said there was much talk in the offseason about adding more “thump” to the Cardinals’ bench.
“I don’t think those were the three guys we were talking about, though,” Matheny said.
The Braves scored four runs on five hits off Jaime Garcia in the third inning but didn’t have another hit as they remained winless.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’s just one inning or one play kind of gets us these last three games.”
Jaime Garcia pitched out of trouble after two errors by shortstop Jedd Gyorko – one throwing, one fielding – put runners on first and second with no outs in the first. Adonis Garcia hit into a double play to end the inning.
Jaime Garcia gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in six innings.
Wisler allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings.
MILESTONE FOR MOLINA
Yadier Molina passed Ted Simmons’ team-record 1,439 games played at catcher. The milestone came less than one week after Molina also passed Simmons’ Cardinals record for starts at catcher.
CHACIN COMING UP
Braves veteran RHP Jhoulys Chacin threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday and will join the Atlanta rotation on Tuesday at Washington. “He went down there and pitched like a major league starter,” Gonzalez said.
Braves: Ender Inciarte left the game with tightness in his left hamstring after reaching on Gyorko’s throwing error in the first inning. Inciarte’s status is day to day. “I feel like I stopped right before it popped,” Inciarte said, adding he’ll know more about his status on Saturday. Drew Stubbs replaced Inciarte as a pinch-runner and in center field.
Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez will make his first start this season in Saturday night’s game against the Braves. Martinez has made only one career start against Atlanta, allowing six hits in eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 Cardinals win on July 25, 2015.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his second start after receiving a no decision while allowing two runs in six innings against Washington. Teheran is 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals, including six scoreless innings in a 2-0 win in the final regular season series last year.