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Cardinals set MLB record with 3 pinch-hit homers to beat Braves

ATLANTA -- The St. Louis Cardinals became the first team in major league history to record three pinch-hit home runs in a game in their 7-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday at Turner Field.

Rookies Jeremy Hazelbaker and Aledmys Diaz and utility man Greg Garcia all hit pinch-hit solo home runs in the final three innings against Atlanta. The last team to hit two pinch-hit home runs in a game was the 2011 Detroit Tigers.

The Cardinals had four pinch-hit home runs all of the previous season.

Asked how hard it is to hit a pinch-hit home run, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who never hit one in his 13-year major league career, said, "I personally wouldn't know how hard, but they sure made it look easy today."

Hazelbaker, who made his first Opening Day roster Sunday after seven seasons in the minors, tied the score in the seventh inning with a shot to right-center off Matt Wisler. Diaz, playing his second major league game, homered to left against lefty Eric O'Flaherty in the eighth, and Garcia went deep to right off John Gant in the ninth.

All three of the players likely would have begun the season in the minor leagues if not for injuries.

"We talked through the winter about our bench and how we felt there was a little more thump," Matheny said. "I don't think those were the three guys we were talking about. But to watch them come in and do something special ... every time they get in there, it's a big moment for them because they're still establishing themselves."

Garcia said he spoke with Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright in the eighth inning about whether two pinch-hit home runs were a record. An inning later, he cinched it.

"When I hit it, honestly, that's what I was thinking about running down to first," Garcia said. "It was the weirdest thing. I was like, 'Did we just hit three pinch-hit home runs?' That was crazy."