Reynolds sheds free-swinger label for clutch at-bat

Reynolds sheds free-swinger label for clutch at-bat

MIAMI -- On his game-winning infield single in the seventh inning Tuesday night, Mark Reynolds took an approach he's not accustomed to taking.

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"I spread out and went no stride and just straight slap hitter," the third baseman said following the Cardinals' 4-3 victory at Marlins Park.

It worked for the veteran slugger, who was filling in for starter Matt Carpenter, as his decisive run-scoring single came in a seven-pitch at-bat after he fell behind 0-2.

"The back-breaker was the [hit] Mark Reynolds had in there," manager Mike Matheny said. "Just fighting and getting deep in the count and he laid off a couple pitches. I think in the past, he probably would have swung through. But that's the benefit of having a better two-strike approach."

With the score tied at 3 in the seventh, St. Louis loaded the bases against Miami reliever Sam Dyson, when Xavier Scruggs singled (his third hit of the game) and Carlos Martinez and Randal Grichuk were hit by pitches. Jhonny Peralta then struck out for the second out of the frame, which brought the notorious power-hitting and strikeout-prone Reynolds to the dish.

Cards regain lead in wild 7th

But he changed his style for this at-bat.

"I was able to lay off some sliders in the dirt and got a pitch I could hit and was glad it didn't bounce to anybody," Reynolds said.

The hard grounder ricocheted off Dyson's leg and bounced to Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who barehanded it and tossed to first. Reynolds beat the off-balanced throw, however, notching an RBI single that held up as the winning hit.

"The guys in the dugout [were] like, 'We finally found a third baseman,'" quipped Reynolds, who finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout. "It's just what this team does. If guys get hurt or need a day, guys step up. Xavier played a heck of a game tonight -- hit that big double and scored two runs. It's just unbelievable that guys we bring in, no matter what happens, they find a way to get it done."

Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.