Cards outlast Reds on Carpenter's 11th-inning homer
By Mark Sheldon and Andy Call
CINCINNATI -- Matt Carpenter's two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning gave the Cardinals a 7-5 win over the Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. St. Louis completed a 3-2 road trip by taking two of three from Cincinnati, which ended its home stand 4-2 with back-to-back losses in the series.
Reds reliever Kevin Gregg worked a five-pitch, and perfect, top of the 10th inning but could not keep the game tied in the 11th. Two batters after Kolten Wong hit a leadoff single to right field, Carpenter attacked a 3-2 fastball that was belt-high and over the plate and deposited it into the right-center-field seats. It was Carpenter's first homer of the season and he finished with four RBIs.
"That's a terrific win. Guys came up big when we needed them to," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Carlos Villanueva, the final reliever left in the Cardinals' bullpen, pitched two innings for the victory.
In 34 series vs. the Reds since the start of the 2003 season, the Cardinals are 29-3-2 and have won 13 of the past 15 series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gregg struggling: Gregg has not had a good first week with the club, which is epitomized by the fact his ERA actually dropped from 27.00 to 15.00 after Sunday's loss, plus a blown save on Opening Day.
"It's not the start I was looking for," Gregg said. "I don't think anyone wants to go through a stretch like this. My first inning, I thought I threw the ball well. My second inning, besides the one pitch, Wong got on top of a ball that I tried to elevate on him. It was shoulder height. They're good hitters and get hits on pitches you wouldn't think they would. With Carpenter, I'm paying for the mistake I made with him."
Frazier delivers clutch hit: A two-out rally for the Reds in the bottom of the seventh inning paid off when Todd Frazier lined a base-loaded single to right field that scored pinch-runner Kristopher Negron and Zack Cozart. Brandon Phillips followed with an RBI single to left field that scored Joey Votto for a 5-3 Cincinnati lead.
Jhonny be good: The Cardinals erased Cincinnati's lead in a span of just three eighth-inning pitches. Matt Holliday singled to right off reliever Jumbo Diaz and Jhonny Peralta smashed a first-pitch home run into the left-field seats, pulling St. Louis into a 5-5 tie.
Price ejected: The inning got a little wilder following the Peralta homer. Mark Reynolds walked and Jon Jay was hit on the foot by a Diaz pitch. Reds manager Bryan Price appeared to argue with home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley that the ball was in the dirt. A lengthy exchange culminated with crew chief Joe West intervening and ejecting Price from the game. It was Price's third career ejection and his first this young season.
Hooray for Jay: Jay, the St. Louis center fielder, saved a run with a memorable first-inning catch. With Billy Hamilton at second base and two out, Phillips blasted a long fly ball that brought the crowd to its feet. Jay went into a full-out sprint to the gap in left-center, making a diving catch as he hit the warning track just behind left fielder Holliday.
"We started off in two cities that don't like us a whole lot, and now we get to go back to a city where everybody loves us." -- Matheny, on his team returning to St. Louis for its home opener on Monday vs. the Brewers.
"It was a game that was there to win, we didn't get it done. It's frustrating to lose a game like this. It's a nice homestand at 4-2, but we had a game out there to win and we didn't. We let them back in and they took advantage of it." -- Price, after his club went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 runners while also blowing a late lead.
Also in the bottom of the eighth after Jay reached on the hit-by-pitch, Yadier Molina attempted a sacrifice bunt and appeared to hit into a 2-5-3 double play as catcher Devin Mesoraco attempted a tag on Molina before he fired to third base and Frazier then threw to first base. Matheny emerged from the dugout for a lengthy exchange with Danley, and then West, saying that Molina was tagged successfully by Mesoraco, meaning the force play was off and that Frazier needed to tag the runner at third base, pinch-runner Peter Bourjos. Following a four-minute, 46-second review, Bourjos was ruled safe.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The Cardinals return to St Louis after a week on the road, hosting Milwaukee in their home opener at 3:10 p.m. CT. Adam Wainwright, who worked six shutout innings against the Cubs on Opening Day, will start a St. Louis home opener for the fourth time. The Brewers counter with Matt Garza.
Reds: The first road trip of the season is a three-city journey, covering 11 days and 10 games. It starts at Wrigley Field vs. the Cubs on Monday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Mike Leake will make his second start and face Chicago ace Jon Lester.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.