CLEVELAND (AP) — José Ramírez hit a two-run double with two out in the ninth inning, lifting the Cleveland Guardians to a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.
Ramírez’s clutch hit off Ryan Helsley (3-4) rolled to the wall in right-center, scoring Myles Straw and Steven Kwan, who had drawn one-out walks.
The swing touched off a wild celebration for the Guardians, who have struggled to get clutch hits throughout the first two months of the season. Cleveland’s players stormed out of the dugout to playfully pound Ramírez, who threw his helmet high into the air between second and third base.
The Guardians’ offensive problems are a major reason the team has struggled to come close to last season’s success. Cleveland has played 25 one-run games out of its 52 games this season and is 11-14 in those contests.
“This is a hard game,” Ramírez said through a translator. “It’s not always going to come out our way. It’s a long season. We have to be prepared. Something’s going to happen positive and negative. We have to be ready for all of those.”
Ramírez ended up with an empty bubble-gum bucket on his head, compliments of his teammates.
“It was (Triston) McKenzie and (Josh) Naylor,” he said. “This is part of the fun, the celebration.”
Helsley retired Andrés Giménez to start the ninth, but walked both Straw and Kwan on four pitches. Amed Rosario was retired on a fly ball before Ramírez delivered.
“He lost it there to a couple of hitters,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It seemed like he was trying to be perfect and kept missing.”
Xzavion Curry (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings for his first major league win.
Paul Goldschmidt hit one of three solo homers for St. Louis in the fifth inning. Goldschmidt, Arenado and Alec Burleson each had two hits.
The Cardinals trailed 1-0 before breaking out in the fifth against Hunter Gaddis.
Burleson led off with a shot to right for his fourth homer. After Tommy Edman flied out, Andrew Knizner hit a drive to left for his fourth homer. Lars Nootbaar then grounded out before Goldschmidt’s 10th homer capped the rally.
Nolan Gorman’s single chased Gaddis, who allowed five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
St. Louis left-hander Jordan Montgomery was charged with two runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The Cardinals have dropped his last eight starts.
Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by getting pinch-hitter Will Brennan to bounce into a double play.
The Guardians took two of three in the series. Cleveland hung on for a 4-3 win Friday. St. Louis won 2-1 on Saturday despite having only two hits.
St. Louis is 15-7 since May 7 to climb back into the NL Central race. The Cardinals were in last place for 24 straight days.
Naylor batted for Tyler Freeman in the sixth against hard-throwing right-hander Jordan Hicks. The at-bat ended with Naylor popping up a 101-mph fastball that sent pieces of his bat flying as Hicks made the catch on the mound.
“We brought Naylor in to face the guy that was throwing real hard because he’s our best fastball hitter,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That didn’t work.”
Cardinals: C/DH Willson Contreras was out of the lineup in a scheduled day off following Saturday night’s game. He’s in an 0-for-25 slump.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale (strained oblique) allowed four runs, struck out seven and threw 88 pitches over 4 2/3 innings in his third rehab start for Triple-A Columbus. McKenzie (shoulder strain) will make his third rehab start for Columbus on Tuesday. The Guardians have yet to decide when the two will rejoin Cleveland’s rotation.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (2-0, 6.33 ERA) will start the opening game of a home series against Kansas City on Monday. He got the win over Cincinnati on Tuesday, allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Guardians: LHP Logan Allen (1-2, 3.31 ERA) will start in the series opener Monday at Baltimore. The rookie allowed four runs over six innings in a loss to the White Sox on Tuesday.