Cardinals win 7-4 in Padres’ return to the NL playoffs

St. Louis Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt (46) reacts with teammate Tommy Edman after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning in Game 1 of a National League wild-card series Wednesday in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Given a chance to catch their breath after a crazy month and a half, the St. Louis Cardinals settled into the playoffs with yet another win against the San Diego Padres.

Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run during a four-run first inning, St. Louis’ bullpen held strong after starter Kwang Hyun Kim stumbled in his playoff debut and the Cardinals ruined the Padres’ long-awaited return to the playoffs with a 7-4 victory Wednesday in the opener of their NL wild-card series.

The Cardinals got a welcome two days off before this series began. They came after a season-closing grind that saw them play 53 games in 44 days, including 11 doubleheaders, with only two days off. The team had its season suspended for 14 games from late July to mid-August after 10 players and eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and had to scramble to fit in the makeups.

“It was nice. We needed them,” Goldschmidt said. “The whole last whatever, 45 days, we were playing every day, guys were playing as hard as they could but can’t operate at 100% for that long. It was nice to kind of recharge and be 100% or close to it and just be ready to go.”

The Cardinals need one more win to eliminate the Padres from the postseason for the fourth time since 1996. They swept the Padres in the NL Division Series in 1996 and 2005, and won 3-1 in 2006, which was the last time San Diego made the postseason. The Padres dropped to 0-4 in the postseason at Petco Park, all against the Cardinals; Game 2 is Thursday.


The 17-year-veteran played in his 99th career playoff game, tying Tino Martinez for sixth all-time.


Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (5-3, 3.15 ERA) is scheduled to start Game 2 on Thursday. The 39-year-old made his career postseason debut at Petco Park in Game 1 of the 2006 NL Division Series and got the save in Game 2. The Cardinals won the series 3-1 and went on to win the World Series.

Padres: RHP Zach Davies (7-4, 2.73) is set to go for the Padres after Clevinger and Lamet were left off the wild-card roster. Davies made one appearance for Milwaukee in the 2018 NLCS against Los Angeles.


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