ANAHEIM -- One of the few things more surprising than the St. Louis Cardinals' mediocre start was the style with which they were muddling along.
They had inverted their model from the season before, slugging their way to wins despite a so-so starting rotation.
Perhaps lately they have found a more fitting form.
Jaime Garcia has become the most difficult Cardinals pitcher to hit. He went into Wednesday's contest with opponents having hit .175 off him, better than any National League pitcher not named Jake Arrieta. The Angels could scrounge up just four hits over seven innings against Garcia, and both their runs were unearned.
For one of the few times this season, the Cardinals won without a home run, and they had just one extra-base hit. Instead, they bunched four straight singles off Matt Shoemaker in the second inning and rode their pitching, which is pretty much the story of 2015.
They also benefited from another professional at-bat from one of their youngest players, Stephen Piscotty. After he fell behind reliever Cam Bedrosian 1-and-2, Piscotty took some tough pitches and ran the count to full. When Bedrosian hung a breaking ball, Piscotty chopped it into right field to drive in Kolten Wong and give the Cardinals another run and a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning.
That relieved some of the stress for Garcia when the Angels got runners at second and third with one out in the bottom half of the inning. Garcia struck out Johnny Giavotella and Shane Robinson to end the threat.
The Chicago Cubs also finally lost -- twice, in fact -- meaning the Cardinals actually made up a little ground in a race they were in danger of dropping out weeks before June's arrival. They cut Chicago's lead to 7½ games.
Garcia (3-2) didn't allow a baserunner until Robinson walked with one out in the third. He didn't allow a hit until CJ Cron's fourth-inning home run. That moment might not have happened if not for Matt Carpenter's error on Albert Pujols' bouncer to his left. Then again, one batter before that, Wong had made a strong play and throw from up the middle to take a potential hit away from Mike Trout. The play required a replay review ordered from the Cardinals' bench.