Bullpen follows blueprint in second chance

After contributing to tough loss in opener, Duke, Siegrist, Oh find redemption

Bullpen follows blueprint in second chance

CINCINNATI -- A script left unexecuted on Tuesday was pulled back out for another try on Wednesday, and this time it was followed to near perfection to bring an end to the Cardinals' three-game losing streak.

The team's late-inning triumvirate of Zach Duke, Kevin Siegrist and Seung Hwan Oh -- each of whom had, to varying degrees, missteps in a loss one night earlier -- rebounded with scoreless outings. Their efforts sealed a 5-4 win over the Reds that allowed the Cardinals to leap the Marlins in the Wild Card standings.

With 55 games remaining, the Cardinals own a half-game advantage over the Marlins for the second Wild Card spot.

"We've got a good bullpen," manager Mike Matheny said. "You're going to have nights like [we had last night]. They erased that one and came out and were very good for us in the back end of the game."

The Cardinals' acquisition of Duke on Sunday was done with the hope that he could help stabilize the back end of a bullpen that has been thinned by injury and ineffectiveness. Unable to finish an inning in his organizational debut on Tuesday, Duke breezed through a 1-2-3 seventh inning while making a better second impression.

It was Duke's Major League-leading 55th appearance.

"Being a bullpen guy, you have to have a short memory," Duke said. "I just like being in games. I felt pretty calm yesterday. I just got out of my delivery a little bit and started scattering stuff a bit."

Duke strikes out Holt

Siegrist, whose outing on Tuesday had been blemished by Adam Duvall's two-run blast, followed Duke on the mound with a scoreless eighth. Oh did the same to lock down the ninth.

Oh, who, like Duke, has pitched in 55 games this season, had blown one game this season before Tuesday's unraveling. That result, he said, stuck with him as he took the mound with his sights set on redemption. He described Tuesday's loss, one in which he served up a walk-off homer to Scott Schebler, as "a game that I can never forget.

"I want to remember that and move forward from that," Oh added, speaking through an interpreter. "I'm glad that the same thing didn't happen in a row. I was happy to contribute for a win."

The victory bumped the Cardinals' record in one-run games to 14-17, a mark that can be further improved by stingy relief. Despite a recent rocky stretch, the bullpen has shown signs of coming together lately. Since the All-Star break, Cardinals relievers have posted a 2.71 ERA and held opponents to a .209 average.

"We've got some good pieces to fit the last few innings together," Duke said. "Kevin came in and did great in the eighth, and then Mr. Oh shut it down. That's the way you draw it up, right?"

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.