ST. LOUIS -- The Marlins struck early and often against the Cardinals, launching three homers to chase Mike Leake after 3 2/3 innings on their way to a 9-6 win on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. Miami erased any memories of being held scoreless in 16 of the first 18 innings of the series, unloading eight runs in the first four frames.
Leake struggled almost from the get-go, giving up the first of two homers by Giancarlo Stanton in the first inning, a 114-mph shot into the Marlins' bullpen. Leake went on to give up nine hits in his shortest start of the season.
Five of the runs were unearned because of defensive miscues by the Cardinals' infield in the second inning. Stanton capped the frame with a three-run blast to secure his fourth multihomer game this season.
"Obviously, Stanton getting out of the box is good for us, getting up, 1-0," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "The second one also. So it gets it going. Putting runs on the board is always good to see."
After retiring the first six hitters on 17 pitches, Edinson Volquez gave up four runs in the third and only lasted four innings. The right-hander was lifted due to a sore left knee, which has been plaguing him for about a month.
Although St. Louis did its best to claw its way back from a 7-0 deficit, the early lead proved insurmountable. After striking out four times on Tuesday, Tommy Pham drove in three runs on two doubles.
"We kinda put ourselves in a deep hole, but the thing is we do chip away," Pham said. "But it's just hard to overcome holes like that. That's what we got to kind of minimize and prevent."
Justin Bour belted his 19th home run, adding insurance in the ninth inning. The Marlins' four home runs matched a season high for the club, which previously did it April 14 against the Mets.
"That's pretty cool, any time you've got guys hitting home runs," Bour said. "Guys going up there with good approach and doing the right thing. Just a good win."
It was the second time Stanton, Ozuna and Bour homered in the same game.
Asked whether they're the best trio of power hitters in the game, Stanton said: "Yeah, I think so. I don't know the other threesomes. I know a couple of duos."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Defensive deficiencies: The Cardinals set up the Marlins' five-run second inning with two errors. The first allowed Bour to reach leading off, when Matt Carpenter couldn't handle a sharply hit grounder at second base. The second came on a ball that JT Riddle hit at first baseman Luke Voit, who was unable to make the catch as the ball bounced off the bag and into foul territory in right field, where it got stuck underneath the wall. What could have potentially been an inning-ending double play instead scored a run and paved the way for a five-spot.
"It kind of top-spun, took a big hop," Voit said. "I probably should have gone home with it, but I was going to try to turn two since I was so close to the bag. But it just took a funny hop and kicked up."
A stalled comeback: Things began clicking for the Cardinals offensively in the sixth, assisted by a two-out double from Pham that pulled St. Louis within two runs. The Marlins, led by reliever Drew Steckenrider, cut the comeback short. On a 3-2 count, Stephen Piscotty grounded out, ending the inning with two runners in scoring position.
"We had a nice push, and I felt all along that we were going to get right back, not just close, but that we were going to put ourselves in position to take that game," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Just had that sense inside the dugout. The bullpen came in, did a nice job to continue to give us opportunities. We had lots of outs left to make something happen, but that's a big number to overcome."
"He can do that. Most of the time, when he gets the barrel on it, it's gone. Like me, I try to do the same thing, but it's a double." -- Ozuna, on Stanton's power
"Any given team can beat anyone on any given day. It's a matter of who executes the most and who plays mistake-free baseball the most. That's the difference between good teams and bad teams. … We're the in-between team. We have everything needed to be a good team. It's the middle of the season, and we kind of haven't put it together yet." -- Pham, on the Cardinals' potential
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Stanton started off the game with a 407-foot home run, which came off his bat at 114.1 mph, according to Statcast™. It was his second hardest-hit home run this season and his 13th of 110-plus mph, second only to 17 by Yankees rookie Aaron Judge.
VOLQUEZ'S KNEE ISSUES
The reason Volquez was lifted after four innings was injury-related. The veteran right-hander said he's been dealing with a left knee issue for weeks. It even hindered him during his June 3 no-hitter against the D-backs.
"I've been dealing with that probably the last four weeks," he said. "Today was the day I couldn't hold it any more. It was really bad for me. I tried to keep pitching. We took the lead early. It's bad when you can't win the game like that."
Volquez is taking anti-inflammatory medication and is hopeful to be healthy after the All-Star break. Since he doesn't have another start scheduled before Sunday, chances are the Marlins will place him on the disabled list to get another reliever up.
"Every time I threw the ball, it was hard for me to stay under control or put my weight on it," Volquez said.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Needing an end to the third inning, the Cardinals challenged the call that Riddle was safe at first on an attempted double play. Despite an impressive stretch by first baseman Voit to take the throw from second base, Riddle had been ruled safe. After a 53-second review, the call was overturned, ending the inning and preventing the Marlins from taking an 8-0 lead.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: The Marlins wrap up their four-game set vs. the Cardinals at 1:45 p.m. ET on Thursday. Tom Koehler, coming off allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in a loss at Milwaukee, makes his 10th start. The right-hander is 1-3 with an 8.33 ERA on the season and 1-3 (7.62) in his career against St. Louis.
Cardinals:Michael Wacha will take the mound for the Cardinals at 12:45 p.m. CT on Thursday in the series finale with the Marlins. He is 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 home starts, tied for first in the National League, and 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in four starts during day games.