The Cardinals (10-10) swung in front with three runs against RHP Andy Ferguson (L, 1-1) in the top of the second. RF David Popkins and SS Luis Mateo started the frame with consecutive singles, before a walk by 3B Patrick Wisdom loaded the bases with no outs. After a pop out, C Travis Tartamella torched a two-run double to left field, scoring Popkins and Mateo. LF Mike O'Neill then brought in Wisdom with an RBI sacrifice fly, stretching the new lead to 3-0.
LHP Jonathan Cornelius (W, 2-2) got out of trouble in the second and third, but the Naturals (6-14) got on the board with one run in the bottom of the fourth. With runners at the corners and one down, C Juan Graterol drove an RBI sacrifice fly to center, bringing in 1B Mark Threlkeld to make it 3-1.
Nothwest Arkansas kept chipping away with their second run in the bottom of the fifth. LF Whit Merrifield started the inning with a bunt single that drew an errant throw from 1B Jonathan Rodriguez, enabling Merrifield to get to second base on the play. After advancing on a fly out, Merrifield darted home on an RBI groundout from Bonifacio, making it 3-2.
The Cardinals, though, stretched the lead back out in the bottom of the eighth. Facing RHP Cody Fassold, CF Rafael Ortega, DH Aledmys Diaz and Rodriguez loaded the bases with three straight singles. LHP Scott Alexander took over on the mound but hit Popkins with his first pitch to force in Ortega. Mateo then worked a bases-loaded RBI walk, before Wisdom ripped an RBI single up the middle to make it 6-2. 2B Greg Miclat then plated Popkins with an RBI fielder's choice for the Cardinals seventh run. After a strikeout, O'Neill lined a two-out RBI single to left, capping the five-run frame to increase the lead to 8-2.
RHP Joey Donofrio tossed his second scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, before RHP Logan Billbrough slammed the door with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, closing the 8-2 win for the Cardinals.
Click here for the complete box score from Thursday's game.
Cardinals return for 8-game homestand starting on Tuesday, April 29.