Athletics defeat Cardinals to avoid three-game sweep

Paul Blackburn remained unbeaten with a fourth straight effective start, Shea Langeliers contributed a ground-rule double to a three-run fifth inning and the Oakland Athletics salvaged one win in their three-game series against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals with a 6-3 triumph Wednesday afternoon.

Esteury Ruiz smacked his second homer in three games and Tyler Nevin had three hits as the A’s capped a 3-3 homestand with their third-most runs this season.

Willson Contreras had two doubles and Ivan Herrera two RBIs for the Cardinals, who completed a 3-3 trip.

Blackburn (2-0), who had not allowed a run in any of his previous three starts, allowed three in a Cardinals fourth-inning uprising that propelled the visitors into a 3-2 lead. Contreras had an RBI double and Herrera a two-run single in the rally.

But Blackburn allowed just one more hit and no more runs before being pulled after 5 2/3 innings, charged with three runs on six hits. He walked five and struck out seven.

T.J. McFarland protected a 5-3 lead by getting the final out of the sixth, before Austin Adams, Lucas Erceg and Mason Miller tag-teamed for three scoreless innings. Miller recorded his fourth save with a two-strikeout ninth.

Down 3-2, the A’s regained the lead in the fifth after Nevin and Zack Gelof opened the inning with singles against Cardinals starter Steven Matz (1-1).

Langeliers followed with his double to left-center, tying the game, before Abraham Toro (infield out) and Darell Hernaiz (sacrifice fly) plated additional runs without the benefit of a hit.

The A’s added an insurance run in the sixth when Ruiz, who had reached base on a fielder’s choice grounder, stole second and raced home on a Nevin single.

Promoted from Triple-A on Monday, Ruiz’s homer opened the scoring in the third after Max Schuemann had worked Matz for an inning-opening walk.

Matz went five innings, during which he allowed five runs and seven hits. He walked three and struck out four.

Ruiz finished with two runs and two RBIs for the A’s, who out-hit the Cardinals 10-6.

Contreras’ doubles were the only extra-base hits for St. Louis, which went homer-less in the three games.