The St. Louis Cardinals will continue leaning on rookie hitters as they battle the visiting Cincinnati Reds in their final series before the All-Star break.

Brendan Donovan drove in three runs with a sacrifice fly and a two-run single as the Cardinals won the series opener 7-3 Friday night. Nolan Gorman hit a solo homer as St. Louis won for just the sixth time in 16 games heading into Saturday’s game. Gorman regained his power stroke after a 1-for-21 funk.

Both players, along with fellow rookie Juan Yepez, helped the Cardinals overcome a spate of injuries during the season’s first half.

“Credit to them and our minor league system for what they’ve done as far as sending us guys who are ready and not scared and embrace the moment,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “We wouldn’t be here without a lot of the contribution from our young guys.

“Also, credit to them for surrounding themselves with the right people, asking the right questions. They have no ego. They’re looking to get better. They’re not just depending on their talent. They are developing it, which is a key for us moving forward.”

The Cardinals will start right-hander Miles Mikolas (6-7, 2.62 ERA) in the second game of this series. Mikolas earned a 6-1 victory in his last start while allowing that one run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. He struck out five batters and walked nobody.

Mikolas has not faced the Reds this season. In his career, he is 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in 12 appearances, including 10 starts.

The Reds have won six of their last eight games while claiming series from the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees. They have come a long way since enduring their nightmarish 3-22 start to the season.

“It’s a great experience for our team,” Reds manager David Bell said of the winning burst. “It’s how you get better. It’s a bit of addictive feeling; you want to keep experiencing it. You want to be in these moments more often.”

The Reds staged a late rally Friday by loading the bases with no outs in the ninth inning, but the game ended when Brandon Drury’s long fly ball was caught on the warning track.

Cincinnati will counter Mikolas with left-hander Nick Lodolo (2-2, 4.44 ERA). In his last start, Lodolo allowed three runs on nine hits and struck out six batters in five innings during a 10-5 victory over the Rays.

Lodolo earned a 4-1 victory over the Cardinals on April 24. He allowed the one run on five hits while striking out seven and walking nobody in 5 2/3 innings.

Ahead of the All-Star break, the Cardinals put infielder/outfielder Yepez on the 10-day injured list with a forearm strain and recalled outfielder Lars Nootbaar from Triple-A Memphis. Also, starting pitcher Dakota Hudson (neck strain) went on the 15-day injured list and Zack Thompson arrived from Memphis.

The Reds put infielder Mike Moustakas on the 10-day injured list heading into the All-Star break.

–Field Level Media