Cardinals recap: Cooney finally breaks through

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It took Tim Cooney a while, but the St. Louis Cardinals starter finally picked up his first win of the season and his career.

Thanks to some run support off the bat, the Cardinals cruised to a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a three-game series Friday at Busch Stadium. St. Louis (62-34) improved its lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates to six games and the Chicago Cubs to 10 1/2 games.

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Cooney, who has pitched at times this year in place of Adam Wainwright, struck out five and gave up two earned runs on the way to the win.

Randal Grichuk put the Cardinals on the board in the second inning with a two-run homer, and the team later added individual runs in the third (on an RBI single by Jhonny Peralta) and the fourth (RBI single by Mark Reynolds).

Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist finished out the game; going forward, it is hard to tell what their roles will be with the acquisition of former Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek, who should join the team over the weekend.

So far, the second half of the season has been enormous for the Cardinals. St. Louis has won six of seven to add some distance between itself and the Pirates, but can the team keep up this hot streak?

It doesn’t have to worry about the Pirates again until Aug. 11-13, when the teams play a three-game set at Busch, so the more distance St. Louis can gain now, the better off the Cardinals will be.

What’s next

St. Louis will play the middle game of the three-game set Saturday at 7:15 p.m. as Carlos Martinez (10-4, 2.51 ERA) faces Shelby Miller (5-6, 2.33) in Miller’s first game back at Busch since the offseason trade that brought Jason Heyward to the Cardinals.