By Jenifer Langosch and Nick Krueger
MLB.com |@LangoschMLB |
ST. LOUIS -- What was, for eight innings, one of the lesser inspired performances by the Cardinals this season finished as perhaps their most defining victory to date. Down to their final out, they stunned the Reds with a five-run ninth on Monday night for a 5-4 win at Busch Stadium and pulled even with the Marlins for a National League Wild Card spot.
"I've seriously never seen anything like that before," said Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who watched the drama unfold from the trainer's room. "It just shows what kind of guys we have in this clubhouse, never giving up."
The Cardinals entered the ninth inning with five hits, no runs and hitless in 11 chances with a runner in scoring position. That changed when Matt Carpenter, up with the bases full, lined a two-run single to extend the game. An RBI single by Stephen Piscotty made it a one-run game, and a bases-loaded walk by Brandon Moss evened the score at 4.
When Ross Ohlendorf, who inherited a mess created by Reds closer Tony Cingrani, hit Yadier Molina two pitches later, the Cardinals celebrated their sixth walk-off victory of the season. And it was the first in almost 11 years in which they needed five ninth-inning runs to do it.
"That win right there is a small version of our season, what we have to do," manager Mike Matheny said. "You just have to keep playing the game. You trust each other. It was one of those next-man-up [scenarios]. Play the game and good things can happen."
It was just the fourth time this season that a team entered the ninth inning leading by four runs or more and lost. The five ninth-inning runs yielded by the Reds' bullpen were as many as it had given up over its first 22 innings this month.
"It's miserable," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I'll tell you it's a miserable feeling, but we've just got to get this one out of our system."
The ninth-inning unraveling erased what was looking to be the first Major League win for Reds starter Cody Reed, who outdueled Wacha by turning in six shutout frames. Reed, 0-6 with a 7.30 ERA coming into the game, was tagged for five runs over five innings five days earlier against St. Louis.
The Reds gave him an early four-run lead and forced Wacha to throw 65 pitches over the first three innings.Zack Cozart's two-out double opened the scoring in the second inning, and Joey Votto extended the lead to 3-0 with an RBI triple. Brandon Phillips then doubled and scored in the third as the Reds became the first team in an 11-game stretch to score four earned runs off Wacha.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Leadoff spark: Carpenter, hitless in his first nine at-bats after coming off the disabled list, halted that skid with a double in the eighth and then keyed the ninth-inning rally. His two-run single off Cingrani was the first hit the Cardinals had in 12 chances with a runner in scoring position. He now has 16 multi-RBI games this season.
"He's probably the biggest part of our lineup," Moss said. "He gets on base a ton and drives in runners better than anybody. To have him back in the lineup changes our whole lineup. … It gives you a guy you can lean on."
Molina's mark: Ohlendorf hit Molina in the ninth with the bases loaded to bring home the winning run, just after walking Moss to knot the game at 4. Ohlendorf threw just three of his nine pitches for strikes.
"I really didn't even throw that great of pitches," Ohlendorf said. "Really disappointed to not come through in a big situation like that. Fun situation to pitch in, chance to really make a difference for us and disappointing when it doesn't happen."
Keeping it close: This marked the 10th time in the Cardinals' last 15 games that their starter was unable to pitch past the fifth. But the bullpen answered the bell in a big way. Led by Matt Bowman 's two innings, the relievers kept the Reds from advancing a runner beyond second base over the final four innings. Their work kept the lead within striking distance.
"You know, it looked and felt dead at 4-0 when we bring in Bowman," Matheny said. "But you just want to keep giving the offense a chance, and that's what our bullpen did. Overall, just a great effort, great tenacity and not buying into whatever may be going through anybody's mind."
Quick feet: The Reds stole three bases in the first inning. Adam Duvall stole second, while speedster Billy Hamilton swiped second and third, marking the sixth time this season he has stolen both bases in the same inning. Hamilton improved to 17-for-19 running against Molina.
"Anytime you have Billy or some of those guys who can run on base, your concentration, you have to split time with it," Wacha said. "It definitely does take a lot out of you."
"Do we have a lot of ice?" -- Molina's first words to Matheny after taking a pitch to the ribs in the ninth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cardinals have won three of the last four Major League games to end on a walk-off hit-by-pitch. It happened most recently for St. Louis on Aug. 14, 2014, when Jon Jay took a pitch off his body. That was also against the Reds.
Duvall hit a towering foul ball down the left-field line that looked like it might be a home run with Votto on third base and two out in the second inning. After a crew-chief review, the foul call was confirmed. Duvall grounded out softly in front of home plate to end the inning.
The Reds unsuccessfully used their challenge with two out in the fourth inning after Molina walked and Jhonny Peralta lined a double off the left-field wall. Duvall rifled a throw to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, but Molina avoided the tag. The safe call was ruled to stand to put runners at second and third, but Jedd Gyorko struck out to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Left-hander Brandon Finnegan will take the mound on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET for the middle game of this series at Busch Stadium. Finnegan beat the Cardinals in his last start on Thursday, when he pitched six scoreless innings and gave up two hits.
Cardinals: Right-hander Mike Leake is winless this season in two starts against his former team, but he will get a third crack at the Reds on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Leake yielded seven runs on eight hits in a loss last week in Cincinnati. He's given up 19 runs over his last three starts (16 innings).