The Cardinals got a scare in their 9-1 win over the Marlins on Sunday. Starting pitcher Sidney Ponson left after pitching three innings because of elbow discomfort. He’s expected to miss at least one start. Ponson (3-0) was cruising along before his exit, tossing three innings of one-hit ball. He walked two and struck out two. He left the game with a 2-0 lead.

So Taguchi put the Cardinals on top with an RBI single in the second inning and Ponson singled in Taguchi to make it 2-0.

St. Louis exploded for five runs in the fourth inning to give some cushion to the bullpen, which was forced into early action. John Gall, Albert Pujols and Juan Encarnacion all singled in runs, while Scot Spiezio drove in a run with a double. Pujols’ single drove in two, upping his major league-leading total to 38. The Cardinals were up 7-0, for the third-straight game.

Brian Falkenborg, Josh Hancock, Brad Thompson and Randy Flores combined to take care of the Marlins over the final six innings. They allowed five hits and two walks, striking out six. Hancock (1-0) worked 1.1 innings to get the victory.

The Marlins only run came in the six when Miguel Cabrera grounded into a double play and Hanley Ramirez scored from third.

In the ninth, Taguchi and Yadier Molina singled in runs to make it 9-1.

With the sweep of the Marlins, the Cardinals improved to 20-12 and trail the first place Reds by one game for the National League Central lead.