ST. LOUIS - An energy-sapping, nine-game trip that seemed much longer ended well for the Yankees.
And now, a day off, which the Bombers, after a 7-4 victory over the Cardinals Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, will enthusiastically take.
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The victory, in which Hiroki Kuroda pitched OK and Jacoby Ellsbury may well have busted out of a month-long slump, allowed the Yankees (28-24) to finish this trip, which included three extra-inning games, 5-4.
"A well-deserved off day," said Ellsbury, who came in hitting .207 with a .299 on-base percentage with two homers and seven RBIs this month but went 3-for-5 with three RBIs last night. "I know guys will take advantage of it."
Wednesday night didn't go extra innings but it was still a 3-hour, 22-minute slog, fitting for a trip full of such contests.
"Road trips aren't always easy and when you have long ones it makes it even more difficult," Joe Girardi said. "I think some guys are tired and we can use the off day."
The Cardinals (29-24) made it interesting in the ninth, getting the tying run at the plate against David Robertson with none out. After Allen Craig led off with a single, Robertson, who came on with two outs in the eighth and allowed an inherited runner of Adam Warren's to score to make it 7-4, walked Yadier Molina on four pitches. Robertson struck out Jon Jay, pinch hitter Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso to end it.
"I made the outing really hard," Robertson said. "I had to really bear down to get the last three outs."
Kuroda (4-3, 4.57), winless in his previous 11 road starts (0-7) dating to last season, allowed three runs and nine hits in 52/3 innings in getting the victory.
A rejiggered Yankees lineup that featured Brian McCann making his first career start at first base, Brendan Ryan replacing a resting Derek Jeter and rookie catcher John Ryan Murphy hitting fifth, produced 12 hits.
"We've played some long games and I think everyone here is proud of the fact of how we played," Jeter said.
Ellsbury led the way but he had help. Brian Roberts had two hits and scored two runs, McCann added two hits and an RBI, Ryan and Kelly Johnson each added two hits and Murphy drove in two runs.
"I felt a lot more comfortable than I thought I would," McCann said of his experience in the field, which didn't include many challenging plays.
Cardinals righthander Shelby Miller, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings.
Brett Gardner walked and eventually scored on Ellsbury's second hit, a liner to right, to make it 1-0 in a four-run third. After McCann walked, Murphy hit a two-run single to right-center. Ichiro Suzuki beat out a double-play grounder to second to bring in McCann to make it 4-0.
In the fourth, Ellsbury had a two-run single and McCann added an RBI single to make it 7-0.
The Cardinals tallied solo runs in each of the next three innings, with lefty Matt Thornton replacing Kuroda after Matt Carpenter's RBI double with two outs in the sixth made it 7-3. Thornton allowed an infield single to put runners on the corners but Dellin Betances needed one pitch to retire Matt Holliday on a flyout to end the inning.
After Robertson escaped the ninth, the Yankees could finally think about a rest.
"We're definitely looking forward to the off day," Robertson said. "Guys could use it because we don't get another one for 17 days after that."