CINCINNATI -- With a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds played spoiler on Friday night at Great American Ball Park, coming back from a two-run deficit to prevent the Cardinals from padding their lead for the second National League Wild Card spot.
After loading the bases in both the seventh and eighth innings but coming away with nothing, the Reds did so again in the ninth with a walk and two singles from Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips and Scott Schebler. This time, Eugenio Suarez delivered the clutch hit, giving the Reds the 3-2 win with his single against the drawn-in Cardinals infield.
"My first career walk-off -- I feel great," Suarez said. "I knew that this moment would come to me soon, but today gave me the opportunity, God gave me the opportunity, and I just tried to make it game over. That happens when you have concentration in that moment, that's what I do right now. I just try to hit a ball right in the middle and watch them for a good pitch to hit in the middle. I know it's coming, something like that, sinking in like that, and I get it."
The Reds clawed back against previously dominant starter Alex Reyes, though. After five scoreless innings, Reyes allowed hits to Cozart and Phillips to start the sixth and then watched a sacrifice fly and an RBI single eliminate his lead.
Although the Cardinals lost, the NL Wild Card race remains relatively unchanged, with the Giants, Mets, Pirates and Marlins also losing. The Cardinals remain 1 1/2 games behind the Giants for the first spot and maintain a two-game lead over the Mets and a 2 1/2-game lead over the Pirates.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Yadios, amigos: St. Louis catcher Molina opened the scoring in the second inning when he reached down to get DeSclafani's pitch and lifted it 392 feet, per Statcast™, over the center-field fence. Molina, who has six homers this season, is coming off a torrid August, during which he batted a team-high .337.
Billy's baserunning blunder: Normally solid on the basepaths, Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton ran into a costly out in the first. After a leadoff bunt single, Hamilton advanced to third on a pickoff error by Reyes and then a stolen base. On a hard grounder to third from Phillips, Hamilton broke on contact, getting caught up between third and home before eventually getting tagged for the second out. The Reds ended the inning empty-handed.
Reyes of hope: When rookie right-hander Reyes struck out DeSclafani and Hamilton to end the fifth, he had allowed only one run during his first 19 Major League innings. The Reds, however, scored twice in the sixth to tie the score, and Reyes' shift came to an end when Matt Adams pinch-hit for him in the top of the seventh.
"Alex did a nice job with his start," manager Mike Matheny said. "His fastball was a wipeout pitch tonight." More >
Cardinals' great escapes: After the Reds tied it up in the sixth, the Cardinals nearly fell behind in the seventh after reliever Zach Duke loaded the bases with one out. However, rookie reliever Matt Bowman came in and induced a weak flare to second from Phillips and then got Adam Duvall to pop out to end the inning, preserving the tie. The following inning, the Reds again loaded the bases against Kevin Siegrist, but he was able to strike out Hamilton to escape the jam he created with three walks.
"I wouldn't say I felt great mechanically today, and personally, I don't really think I threw the ball that great. I feel like I got away with a lot early in the game with balls hit right at guys. I feel like that could've gotten ugly there pretty early, but that's baseball. Balls went right at guys. Able to keep their runs down, played defense. I got through seven innings, but I don't really know how. It is what it is, I'll take it. At least the team stayed in the game and Suarez had a big hit there. That was a lot of fun to watch." -- DeScalfani, on grinding through seven innings
"Especially in a tie situation, you don't want to let the leadoff guy get on. You can't deny it." -- Seung Hwan Oh, through interpreter Eugene Koo, on walking Cozart to open the bottom of the ninth
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the bottom of the eighth, Suarez attempted a steal of second base, apparently getting under the tag of Greg Garcia. The Cardinals challenged the call that Suarez beat the tag, but the call on the field stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The series continues Saturday at 3:10 p.m. CT. St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia (10-10, 4.46 ERA) will try to get back on track after a rough stretch of three consecutive starts during which he has surrendered five or more earned runs.
Reds: The Reds host the second of three games against the Cardinals on Saturday, sending Dan Straily to the mound for the 4:10 p.m. ET first pitch. Straily is coming off of one of his worst outings of the season, allowing seven runs over 2 2/3 innings, including four homers, to the Angels.