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MIA@STL: Westbrook allows only three hits over seven

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals had followed Thursday's deflating walk-off loss to the Angels with an unenviable travel itinerary. There was a lengthy bus ride to an area airport and a flight that took the club through the night. By the time the Cardinals landed in St. Louis on Friday morning, the sun was already rising.

There would, however, be no hangover effect from it all.

Rather, the Cardinals came out sharp and quick, jumping on Marlins starter Jacob Turner early and then riding Jake Westbrook's rediscovered sinker to a 4-1 win over the Marlins. With a sellout crowd of 46,177 at Busch Stadium on Friday night, the Cardinals buried the frustrations of a 3-5 road trip with the series opening victory.

"I don't see us as a group that really resorts to the excuses," manager Mike Matheny said. "When something is put on their plate that is a little more difficult, they seem to respond well. They always seem to respond, too, after a tough loss, and last night was about as tough as they get."

Matt Adams characterized the win as "huge ... a turnaround for us." Allen Craig described the 24 hours that preceded it as "crazy," adding of the travel, "I don't think I've done something like that ever."

None of it was a hindrance, as Friday emerged as a night of bounce-back performances. There was the collective one by a team seeking firm footing before the All-Star break. Westbrook broke out of his own funk and closer Edward Mujica moved past Thursday's debacle by notching his 22nd save with ease.

"Everybody has bad days sometimes, and you're trying to get here and just turn the page and get ready for the next game," Mujica said. "I didn't put too much attention on last night."

There was also a familiarity factor in play Friday, as Turner was hardly a stranger around these parts. Mike Matheny had helped mentor the St. Louis-area native in high school, and Turner had faced the Cardinals three different times during Spring Training.

Turner's evolution over the past few months, however, made him a much more formidable foe. His sinker, which had been flat throughout spring, has much more life on it now. Still, Turner left a few pitches up, and it was with those that the Cardinals capitalized.

Consecutive two-out doubles by Matt Holliday and Allen Craig gave the Cards a first-inning lead. After Logan Morrison drilled a 440-foot home run to even the game in the second, the Cardinals scored three times in the third.

The top of the lineup was again the catalyst, with Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay starting the frame with singles. Holliday's second double of the night drove Carpenter home. Jay scored on a sacrifice fly by Craig. Matt Adams' RBI double capped the four-hit frame.

"Early in the game, they had a pretty solid approach against [Turner]," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "They stayed the other way and didn't get pull happy with him. They took what he gave them. They had some nice at-bats."

Craig upped his RBI total to 68, second most behind league leader Paul Goldschmidt. Holliday finished 2-for-4, but made hard contact on all four balls put in play. The Cardinals would like to think it a harbinger of bigger things to come for their three-hole hitter, who was recently sidelined by a pinched nerve.

"Nice, short swings. It didn't look like he was trying to do too much," Matheny said. "Overall, it was a good offensive day for him and something to build on for sure."

Westbrook would not let the second lead slip away.

He rebounded from a season-low four-inning start with an efficient seven-inning effort. Morrison's home run was one of only four balls the Marlins hit in the air off Westbrook all night. He recorded 18 of his 21 outs on the ground and was at 86 pitches when his night ended.

Westbrook had needed 83 to labor through four innings last Sunday.

"It's good to bounce back from that outing [in Oakland] and have a good one here, especially with the guys getting here so late this morning," said Westbrook, who had flown back ahead of his teammates so he could get a full and normal night's sleep. "I made a few adjustments, looked at a few things and worked on a few things in my bullpen [session]. I was able to carry that into today."

The Marlins tagged Westbrook for a total of three hits, and another two baserunners reached on errors by Carpenter. Errorless through the first 31 games he played at second, Carpenter has now committed six miscues at second in his last 18 starts there.

Westbrook helped bail out his teammate as he followed both errors with double plays, including a bizarre one in the fifth.

With runners on first and second and no outs, Turner laid down a bunt that catcher Yadier Molina grabbed while it was just fair. Molina tagged Turner and threw to third. David Freese, thinking a force was still in play, stepped on third and umpire Brian O'Nora ruled the runner, Adeiny Hechavarria, out.

Though he actually needed to be tagged to have been out, Hechavarria headed toward the dugout. Once he left the field, the umpires' decision was irreversible. Westbrook then induced a groundout to end the inning.

"That's a big play in the game," Matheny said. "And that's all Yadi. He comes firing out of the box and gets the ball before it gets off the top of the plate."

"It was a weird play," Turner added. "If I get the bunt down, we don't have any problem."

The Marlins wouldn't threaten again. Westbrook was pulled after seven innings, largely because Matheny wanted his setup man and closer to get some work. Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side. Mujica struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth. He had learned from his mistakes, too. Asked if he shook off Molina, Mujica quickly offered: "Absolutely no." Comments