SAN DIEGO — The Cardinals had found a way to generate baserunners earlier in the game and even ended the long slog for that missing run with a solo homer.
It took a rookie to bring it all together.
Brendan Donovan blasted the Cardinals out of their offensive funk with a grand slam in the seventh inning to send them to a 5-4 victory Thursday against San Diego. Donovan’s first big-league grand slam helped the Cardinals to avoid a series sweep at Petco Park and gave them their first genuine outburst of runs in five days. Lars Nootbaar’s solo homer in the fifth inning ended the Cardinals streak of consecutive innings without an RBI or an earned run at 47.
Donovan’s homer got them the win.
Jack Flaherty bought time for the eventual rally with six steady innings that concluded with the strongest stretch of pitching by the right-hander in at least a year. Flaherty struck out nine and held the Padres to three runs, though two of which involved misplays on defense.
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The Cardinals’ game-changing, week-altering, spirit-uplifting rally begam modestly enough with Dylan Carlson’s pinch-hit single. Nootbaar drew a walk to put the tying run on base and force the Padres into a decision. San Diego turned to right-hander Nick Martinez to put leadoff hitter Tommy Edman on the left side of the plate. He worked a full-count walk to load the bases. Donovan’s…