ST. LOUIS (AP) — San Diego center fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. dropped Nolan Arenado’s bases-loaded popup and heaved the ball home, leading to a five-run first inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Padres 8-7 Sunday for an eight-game winning streak.
Tatis’ brutal error and mental mistake — he chose not to make an easy throw to second or third for a forceout — came one day after his dugout dustup with teammate Manny Machado.
“Looking back, maybe you’d take the out at second,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “He came in ready to make a play in case they were tagging there, so that’s where his mindset was, to catch and go home. After the ball went on the ground, he just went with those instincts.”
San Diego starter Jake Arrieta left soon after the error with an injury.
St. Louis completed a three-game sweep and opened a three-game lead for the second NL wild card over Cincinnati and Philadelphia, which played at the New York Mets later Sunday. The Cardinals had not won eight in a row since Aug. 7-15, 2018.
St. Louis was 8 1/2 games out of a wild card spot on Aug. 10.
“It’s been very big for us, every victory that we’ve had ever since that time.” Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa said through a translator. “That’s been our mindset going into this, to be able to win series and be able to win games. We’re just going to continue doing what we’re doing right now.”
San Diego, which trailed 8-4 in the eighth inning, has lost eight of 11 and dropped 3 1/2 games back of the Cardinals.
“Last time while I was on the Zoom I said it was going to be the greatest comeback in San Diego history,” said Padres reliever Craig Stammen, who replaced Arrieta. “I still believe it. The rest of those guys in the clubhouse still believe it. I was hoping it wouldn’t go this way, but here we are.”
Arrieta (5-14) left after six batters and 20 pitches because of a right adductor groin strain. He allowed five runs — four earned — three hits and a walk while getting one out.
St. Louis loaded the bases with no outs in the first when Tommy Edman doubled, Paul Goldschmidt singled and Tyler O’Neill walked.
Arenado hit a pop to center that Tatis settled under 226 feet from the plate and allowed to bounce out of his glove. Rather than throw to second or third for an easy forceout, the 22-year-old center fielder with the $340 million, 14-year contract rushed a one-hop throw that reached the plate well after Edman scored standing up.
Dylan Carlson followed with a sacrifice fly, Sosa hit an RBI double and Harrison Bader greeted Stammen with a two-run double for a 5-0 lead.
“A lot of great at-bats,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We didn’t think they were just going to roll over. They’re going to give you their best bolt, they did, and we were able to fend them off.”
Alex Reyes (9-8) allowed one run over two innings to win in relief of J.A. Happ, who gave up three runs and four hits in four innings. Giovanny Gallegos struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 18 chances.
San Diego closed to 5-3 on Tatis’ RBI single in the third, and on Eric Hosmer’s run-scoring groindout and Wil Myers’ RBI single off Happ’s foot in the fourth.
O’Neill singled in a run in the fifth and scored on a double by Sosa that just fell out of the grasp of a diving Myers in right.
Tommy Pham’s 14th homer cut the gap to 7-4 in the sixth, and Carlson singled home a run off Dinelson Lamet in the seventh.
Pham hit a two-run double off Luís Garcia in the eighth and scored on Hosmer’s groundout. With Myers on third, Genesis Cabrera induced Adam Frazier’s inning-ending flyout.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder strain) will accompany the team on its trip to Milwaukee and throw a bullpen session on Tuesday.
Padres: Open a six-game homestand Tuesday against San Francisco.
Cardinals: RHP Jake Woodford (2-3, 4.30 ERA) will start the first game of a four game series in Milwaukee Monday night. The Brewers will counter with RHP Freddy Peralta (9-4, 2.57 ERA).