CLEVELAND — Brendan Donovan scored on a passed ball in the 10th inning after homering in the second, lifting the St. Louis Cardinals — who had just two hits — to a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Saturday night.
Donovan began the 10th on second as the automatic runner, stole third base and came home when third-string catcher David Fry mishandled a pitch by Nick Sandlin (2-2) to Oscar Mercado.
“Nick made a good pitch, threw a sinker, and I thought I had my glove right there on the dirt,” said Fry, who entered in the eighth after starter Cam Gallagher was lifted for a pinch-hitter. “Unfortunately, it went right under my glove to the backstop.”
St. Louis won for the 14th time in its last 20 games despite managing only two hits against Guardians starter Tanner Bibee and four relievers. The Cardinals didn't get a hit after Alec Burleson singled in the third.
It was only the third time Cleveland lost while allowing two or fewer hits in an extra-inning game. The others were in 1901 and 1977.
Ryan Helsley (3-3) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win and Giovanny Gallegos earned his sixth save with a scoreless 10th. Jack Flaherty matched his longest start of the year with seven innings of one-run ball, striking out four.
Donovan homered to right in the second to put St. Louis ahead 1-0. It was his second home run in four games and the Cardinals’ 41st of the month, four shy of their May franchise record set in 2000.
“You can put Brendan anywhere on the field and he’s going to make plays,” right-hander Flaherty said. “What he did in the 10th inning, he’s special. I love that the guy is on my team. It doesn’t matter what situation you put him in, he’s ready to go at all times.”
The Guardians tied it in the third when Steven Kwan walked, advanced on a wild pitch and came home on a single by José Ramírez. Amed Rosario doubled twice and Josh Naylor and Ramírez had two singles apiece.
Defending AL Central champion Cleveland is 4-4 in extra-inning games, matching Toronto for the most in the majors, and is 13-23 overall since April 16. The Guardians played their league-leading 24th one-run contest, losing for the 15th time.
“When you score one run, I’m not sure I want to sit up here and flex our muscles, but we’re always looking for a reason to be positive,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “But there are things that we did tonight, like allowing a stolen base, when we can’t.”
Bibee went six innings in his sixth big league start, allowing one run on two hits while striking out a season-high nine. The right-hander was victorious in his April 26 debut against Colorado, but is winless with one loss since.
“Obviously, it’s a dream to play in the major leagues, so it’s been good,” Bibee said.
St. Louis loaded the bases in the seventh when James Karinchak entered and walked Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras and Donovan. Sam Hentges replaced Karinchak and retired the next three batters to keep the game deadlocked.
Cleveland failed to score in the eighth after Ramírez singled and Naylor walked with no outs, but relievers Andre Pallante and Helsley escaped unscathed.
“They’re going to put the ball in play, that’s the type of team Cleveland is, but our defense played well and we made some key pitches,” Flaherty said.
Cardinals designated hitter Nolan Gorman went 0 for 4, ending his on-base streak at 17 games.
The paid attendance of 32,224 was the second largest of the season in Cleveland, trailing the opening day crowd of 34,821 against Seattle on April 7.
CHANGE OF PLANS
Cardinals LHP Steven Matz, who is 0-6 with a 5.72 ERA through 10 starts, will work out of the bullpen until at least next weekend. Matz allowed six runs and a season-high 11 hits over four innings Wednesday at Cincinnati.
“It’s been a grind for me this year,” he acknowledged. “I love starting and I love the routine, but I’ll do whatever I can to help the team. But I want to start.”
Matz has only made 10 relief appearances in his nine-year career, starting 156 games.
Cardinals: OF Tyler O’Neill (lower back strain) has been shut down from baseball activities for the second time since being placed on the injured list on May 5. O’Neill had been expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment late this month.
Guardians: RHP Triston McKenzie (right upper back strain) will make what could be his final rehab start Tuesday for Triple-A Columbus at Iowa. McKenzie has not appeared in a major league game since Oct. 15, 2022 against the Yankees.
Cardinals LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-6, 4.55 ERA) faces Guardians RHP Hunter Gaddis (1-1, 5.26 ERA) in the three-game series finale.