CINCINNATI -- Added to the lineup as part of manager Mike Matheny's efforts to find an offensive spark, outfielder Tommy Pham delivered a tiebreaking home run on Sunday that halted the Cardinals' three-game losing streak and sent them surging from Cincinnati with a 9-2 win over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
The Cardinals' offense, which had mustered just three runs in the first three games of the series, erased an early deficit with a two-run fifth against Reds starter Raisel Iglesias. Reliever Sam LeCure then started the sixth, issued a one-out walk and served up a two-run blast to Pham. It came amidst a stretch of nine unanswered runs for the Cardinals.
"To be able to get a start and then to be able to help the team out, it's truly a good feeling," Pham said.
Sunday marked Pham's first start since Sept. 2.
"I definitely don't feel happy about this outing," Iglesias said through translator Tomas Vera after he gave up two runs and five hits while throwing 89 pitches over five innings. "My goal was to throw at least seven innings to give some rest to the bullpen and help them finish the game. It didn't happen that way. Personally, I don't feel this was a good outing all. I didn't achieve what I was looking for."
The Reds, seeking to sweep a four-game series over the Cardinals for the first time since 2003, struck early against starter Michael Wacha with a Todd Frazier home run and Tucker Barnhart sacrifice fly. Wacha, who became the fifth National League pitcher to 16 wins, would not allow another run over his six-inning start.
"Michael set the tone," Matheny said. "We don't need Michael to be superhuman. We need Michael to go out and throw the kind of game that he can throw. … We like how Michael goes about his business and we know if he does his normal thing, we have a shot."
The Cardinals sealed the victory with a five-run eighth, capped by a two-run home run from Matt Adams in his third at-bat since coming off the disabled list. With the victory, the Cardinals, who had lost eight of their last 10, maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over the Pirates in the NL Central.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Heyward robbery: After two unsuccessful attempts to rob the Reds of home runs earlier in the series, Jason Heyward brought one back to preserve a tie game in the fifth inning. With a perfectly-timed leap in front of the right-field wall, Heyward ended the frame by keeping Ivan De Jesus Jr. from clocking his fifth home run of the season.
"It's huge," Wacha said of the catch. "It gets me out of the inning 1-2-3 real quick. He probably thinks he could have had a couple more this series, but he made a heck of a play and has been making great plays all year for us." More >
Hot-corner power: Leading off the bottom of the second, Frazier gave the Reds a 1-0 lead when he hit a 1-1 Wacha pitch over the center-field fence for his 33rd home run of the season. It's the third-highest total ever for a Reds player who primarily plays third base. Three players for the franchise have crossed the 30-homer plateau: Tony Perez had 39 homers in 1970, and 37 in '67. Deron Johnson had 32 homers in '65.
"It was a fastball, low and away," Frazier said. "That's my zone over there, get one out and over. I got a good piece on it. It's funny, you hear a different noise. I hit the one to center [field], it's just a different noise off the end. When I get that good noise off the bat, I know I got a good piece of it."
Feasting in the fifth: There was a lot going on during Iglesias' 35-pitch fifth, but most importantly for the Cards was that their offense finally found some traction. Sparked by a nine-pitch RBI single from Kolten Wong following Jon Jay's one-out double, the Cardinals began their breakthrough. Wacha, after being brushed back by a pitch that led to both benches being warned, dropped down a two-strike sacrifice bunt, after which Matt Carpenter lined a game-tying single. More >
Votto-matic for the people: With a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth inning, Joey Votto extended his streak of reaching safely to 32 games, tying his season high. Votto's career high for reaching safely is 41 games, which he did in 2010.
"I think any pitcher can go through a bad inning. The fifth inning was a bad inning. It can happen to anybody. When I was going through the inning, I had a chance to turn around and I saw how many pitches I had. I knew it was [close to going] over 90 pitches and I started to put some pressure on myself. It got harder. I knew that was it for me. I knew it was going to be my last inning." -- Iglesias
"It's a good feeling. The other night, my first at-bat felt good. I thought the timing was going to be an issue, but here it seemed to be OK. That's something that I have to keep working on, but today felt good."
-- Adams, on connecting for his first home run since May 20
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After watching Billy Hamilton swipe 10 bases off him in 10 attempts, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina finally threw out the Cincinnati speedster on Sunday. Molina caught Hamilton trying to take second after reaching on a one-out single in the seventh. Molina reacted with a grin and a shrug. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In a nifty play in the top of the first inning with a runner on first base and one out, Reds first baseman Joey Votto stopped Yadier Molina's ground ball and threw to second base while on his back. Eugenio Suarez fired to first base to try and complete the double play, but Molina was called safe by umpire Chad Fairchild. The Reds challenged the call and it was overturned after a 55-second review.
The Cardinals lost their challenge in the fourth inning trying to get Stephen Piscotty's foul ball down the left-field line changed to a double. After a one-minute, 43-second review, the call stood. Piscotty eventually reached on a walk.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: Following an off-day on Monday, the Cardinals will open a three-game series in Milwaukee with Carlos Martinez on the mound Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Martinez, who matches up against Brewers starter Ariel Pena, has won just two of his last eight starts.
Reds: A 10-day, nine-game road trip begins at 10:15 ET Monday with the first of three games vs. the Giants at AT&T Park. Keyvius Sampson will make the start against Tim Hudson. Sampson seemed to have found a groove in his previous start on Wednesday, taking a two-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing a grand slam in a 5-4 loss.