ST. LOUIS -- Yadier Molina's three-run double off Reds ace Johnny Cueto in the seventh inning broke open a tie game and sent the Cardinals on their way to a 6-1 victory in Friday night's series opener at Busch Stadium.
Both Cueto and Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha allowed first-inning runs, and the score remained 1-1 until the seventh. Wacha stranded a runner at third to close the top half of that frame, but Cueto couldn't match the damage control. Following his leadoff single, Matt Holliday moved to third when Jhonny Peralta bounced a hit over the glove of Reds left fielder Marlon Byrd.
"[Byrd] came in, and I'm sure came in to catch it and anticipated the ball staying down a little bit, and it just jumped," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "He was trying to make an aggressive play on a ball that hangs in the air right on the line, there's a lot of things he has to cover on that play. He has to decide if he's going to try to catch it or limit the damage if it falls in fair territory."
The misread allowed Peralta to advance to second, which then led Reds manager Bryan Price to intentionally walk Jon Jay, a career .444 hitter against Cueto. Molina welcomed the move and jumped on a first-pitch fastball, lining it into the left-field corner to clear the bases. The three hits the Cardinals tallied off Cueto in the inning matched their total from the previous six. More >
"Yadi is the story there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He gets into a situation where he knows they pitched around Jay to get to him and you can't wait to step up there. He's feeling much more confident at the plate, and we like it when he's in a spot that he's in right now."
Following Joey Votto's homer in the first, the Reds collected just four hits in Wacha's seven innings. Cincinnati has dropped five of its last six games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED An acrobatic run:Matt Carpenter produced his fifth straight multi-hit game, though it was his first-inning somersault over catcher Brayan Pena that drew the most attention. After doubling to lead off the inning and moving to third on a groundout, Carpenter tagged and scored on Holliday's fly ball to center field by leaping over Pena as the Reds catcher received a throw from Billy Hamilton.
"It was my first somersault ever," Carpenter said. "It ended up working out, but hopefully I don't have to do that too often." More >
Votto goes deep: Votto quickly made it a 1-0 game in the top of the first inning with his home run to right-center field against Wacha. Votto, who has four homers on the season, went deep for the first time since he homered twice vs. the Cardinals and John Lackey on April 10. Votto has reached safely in all 10 games this season.
Buckling down: Wacha kept the first inning from further unraveling and then preserved a tie game in the seventh by recording inning-ending outs with a Reds runner at third. It took Wacha only three pitches to strike out Byrd with runners on the corners in the first. Wacha's 103rd and final pitch of the night induced a flyout from Hamilton, leaving Zack Cozart on third.
"Anytime you're going up against a guy like Cueto, you know you're going to have to match zeroes with him," Wacha said. "That was the mentality going into it." More >
"I'm not much for big [productions] or anything such as this, but it's a big thrill today and, of course, it's a big thrill to have my family there on the field. Baseball has been so good to me. I don't know how to express myself to thank them for everything that has happened to me." -- 92-year-old Red Schoendienst, on being honored by Cardinals on the 70th anniversary of his Major League debut More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With two outs in the top of the ninth, the Reds challenged that a 1-2 inside pitch from Kevin Siegrist grazed the left shoulder of pinch-hitter Kristopher Negron. Originally called a ball, it was overturned and Negron was awarded first base.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds:Homer Bailey will come off of the disabled list and make his season debut in the second game of the series on Saturday, with first pitch set for 2:15 p.m. ET/ 1:15 p.m. CT. It will be Bailey's first regular-season start since Aug. 7 before he needed surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon near his right elbow. More >
Cardinals: After holding the Reds to two runs in his six-inning season debut on Sunday, Carlos Martinez draws another start against Cincinnati for his first home appearance of the season. The bullpen cost Martinez a win against St. Louis last weekend.