ATLANTA -- Tommy Pham capped a memorable first weekend back at the big league level and added to the frustrations the Braves experienced during this homestand, drilling a deciding two-run homer off Josh Collmenter to give the Cardinals a 6-4, 14-inning win on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park.
While completing a three-game series sweep and leaving the Braves with just one win during a six-game homestand, the Cardinals received a career-high four hits, including two homers, from Pham, who made his season debut on Friday. The Braves' bullpen had allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings before Pham drilled his game-winner 411 feet with a 110.1 mph exit velocity, per Statcast™.
"I was joking around [in the dugout], saying, 'We don't get paid for overtime, so let's go,'" said Pham, whose homer was the hardest hit by a Cardinal this season. "I was pumped to come through. It's not like you can keep sending guys out to pitch in extras. Our bullpen is doing the job for us. They're holding the game. We have to pick them up."
Matt Carpenter drilled a two-out solo homer in the first inning and the Cardinals added to their advantage as they tallied four extra-base hits, including Pham's leadoff homer, during a three-run third inning against R.A. Dickey. Michael Wacha preserved the early advantage as he cruised through the first five innings and exited after the sixth having allowed just two runs.
After his sixth-inning double -- one of the four consecutive one-out hits recorded off Wacha -- fueled the Braves' comeback attempt, Freddie Freeman notched his ninth multi-hit game of the season with a game-tying home run off Brett Cecil in the eighth.
"You can't just keep taking [positives] from each game," Freeman said. "We've got to start winning. We've dug ourselves in a hole, really. You can't keep taking a positive from every game and expect to come out here tomorrow or the next day and say we'll get them next time. We've got to start doing it. Obviously, frustration has set in a little bit."
The Braves stranded seven runners during the extra innings and came within inches of ending the game in the 11th as Ender Inciarte nearly beat out a two-out, bases-loaded infield single. The out call stood after a replay review showed Seung Hwan Oh may have received Carpenter's toss while stepping on first base at the same moment Inciarte's foot hit the bag.
"Obviously, that's the game," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I was worried when I saw it in real time. Hats off to an umpire making a tough call against the home team."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Early support: After throwing four straight fastballs to Carpenter in the first inning, Dickey made a mistake with a 71-mph changeup that the Cardinals' first baseman drilled into the right-field seats. The Braves' knuckleballer encountered more trouble in the third inning, when Pham's homer was followed by the doubles recorded by Kolten Wong, Randal Grichuk and Jedd Gyorko.
"I just didn't throw enough good [knuckleballs]," Dickey said. "I gave up a couple solo shots today that hurt us. Realistically, I think I should have given up two runs."
Offensive awakening: After recording just one hit through the first five innings, the Braves recorded four consecutive one-out hits off Wacha during the sixth inning. Inciarte's one-out single was followed by Adonis Garcia's bunt single and Freeman's RBI double. After Matt Kemp's single scored Garcia, Wacha escaped further trouble by getting Nick Markakis to ground into a double play.
"We have to do a better job as a staff," Dickey said after the Braves allowed a first-inning run for a sixth straight game. "I think that will help take the pressure off everybody. Today, we were fortunate that we clawed back. But hopefully, that's not the norm."
"It was a really, really good series for us, just in general. This looked like the kind of team we thought we'd have coming out [of Spring Training], and we're starting to put it together. If we play really good fundamental baseball and make some plays we're capable of, and pitch well, it's why you saw a sweep." -- Carpenter, on the Cardinals' first sweep of the season
"We had a lot of opportunities. I don't like to put it on any play. But we could have won that game on that play. It's frustrating when we couldn't and then they end up scoring those two runs in the end." -- Inciarte, on the 11th-inning review that didn't go his way
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his first-inning home run, Carpenter joined Albert Pujols (Turner Field) and George Hendrick (Fulton County Stadium) as the only Cardinals to homer in three consecutive games in Atlanta. Carpenter leads the Cardinals with seven home runs and 20 RBIs on the season.
A DANDY DEBUT
Center fielder Magneuris Sierra became the first 21-year-old position player to make his Major League debut for the Cardinals since Pujols, and he wasted no time making an impact. A half-inning after tallying his first big league hit -- a line-drive single to left -- Sierra helped Wacha limit the Braves to two runs by coming up with a Four-Star play.
According to Statcast™, Sierra covered 79 feet in 4.4 seconds to make a fly ball with a 35-percent catch probability look routine. In terms of catch probability, it ranked as the best catch by a Cardinals outfielder this season.
"I thought, for sure, that was going to be a gap ball," said Wacha, the beneficiary of Sierra's catch. "That was a big out to start that inning. It just looked routine for him. That just shows what kind of speed and what kind of instincts he has out there."
The Braves issued a pair of successful challenges, including one that overturned the initial ruling that Wong beat Dickey's flip to first base in the first inning. Dansby Swanson was given a chance to deliver an RBI single off Matt Bowman in the seventh inning after a replay overturned Bill Miller's ruling that Jace Peterson didn't beat Aledmys Diaz's double-play relay to first base.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals are moving on to Miami, where they'll begin a three-game series at 6:10 p.m. CT on Monday. Coming off his first win of the season, right-hander Carlos Martinez (1-3, 3.75 ERA) will face Adam Conley (2-2, 6.12 ERA) in the series opener.
Braves:Bartolo Colon will be on the mound when Atlanta begins a two-game set in Houston on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. Colon has allowed at least four earned runs in four of his past five starts and opponents have hit .400 against him over his past three starts.