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Contreras, Donovan homer, Gibson dominates as the Cardinals beat Schildt’s Padres 6-2

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Willson Contreras and Brendan Donovan each hit a two-run home run, Kyle Gibson was dominant in his St. Louis debut and the Cardinals won 6-2 Monday night against their former manager Mike Shildt and the San Diego Padres.

Shildt managed the Cardinals from August 2018 until 2021, when he was fired suddenly despite leading them to three straight playoff berths and winning the 2019 NL Manager of the Year honor. He worked in the Padres’ organization the last two seasons before being promoted to manager in October after Bob Melvin left for his hometown San Francisco Giants with one year remaining on his contract in San Diego.

Gibson (1-0), a 36-year-old right-hander who’s with his fifth big league team, allowed home runs to rookie Jackson Merrill and Fernando Tatis Jr., but otherwise dominated. He allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings while striking out four and walking two.

It was a meaningful start for Gibson. He lives in the St. Louis area in the offseason, played at Missouri and had long wanted to pitch for his hometown team. This start came on a night when the Cardinals needed him to go deep.

“That was a really good outing. It was exactly what we needed,” manager Oliver Marmol said. ”Our pen needed a break and he did exactly that. Gave us seven strong innings, filled up the zone, was in control the whole time out there.”

Gibson signed as a free agent in November.

“You always want to get the first one out of the way and have it go well,” Gibson said. “It’s good also when things that you work on in between starts, over the last couple of weeks of spring training, you can go out there and you can use them and get results with them. Just a really good team win. Defense played awesome out there tonight. Those guys did a great job helping out.”

Gibson, who threw 94 pitches, felt he could have gone another inning, “but I think Ollie made obviously the right choice and said, ‘Hey, it’s the first start, let’s slow down a little bit.’ I think there’s time when you go out there and the bullpen is short, then you’ve got to go 100 pitches no matter how many innings it takes. I’m glad I was able to get through seven.”

The Cardinals didn’t go easy on their former skipper and knuckleballer Matt Waldron, taking a 3-0 lead after just five batters. Donovan hit a leadoff single and scored on Nolan Arenado’s two-out RBI double. Contreras then homered to center field, his first.

Paul Goldschmidt hit an RBI single in in the second to make it 4-0.

Merrill hit his first big league homer in the third, an opposite-field liner to left. In the fifth, he sent a fly ball toward the right-center gap but Jordan Walker made a sensational diving catch to end the inning.

Donovan homered to right in the sixth, his first, for a 6-1 lead.

Tatis homered into the second deck in left-center with one out in the sixth, his third in four games.

Waldron allowed four runs on nine hits in four innings while striking out seven and walking one.

UP NEXT

Cardinals RHP Miles Mikolas (0-1, 10.38 ERA) faces Padres RHP Yu Darvish (0-0, 1.04) on Tuesday night.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By BERNIE WILSON
AP Sports Writer

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