Cards keep hold of Wild Card spot with finale win

Cards keep hold of Wild Card spot with finale win

CINCINNATI -- The Cardinals will hold onto sole possession of second position in the National League Wild Card standings for at least one more day.

After losing the first two games of the series, St. Louis was able to salvage the finale against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Sunday afternoon, riding two homers to a 5-2 victory. The win kept their lead at one game over the Mets, who won their game on Sunday night.

"When you have the sting of games lost that you feel like could have gone your way, and you keep wearing those, yeah, you need something to fix it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead on Reds' starter Tim Adleman with a two-run homer from Randal Grichuk in the second. All three of Adleman's earned runs came from the homer, with Kolten Wong hitting a solo shot in the fifth. Adleman exited after five innings, allowing four hits and a walk and striking out six. St. Louis was able to add two unearned insurance runs in the sixth thanks to two Reds' errors.

Cardinals' starter Carlos Martinez started out strong, taking a no-hitter into the fourth inning, but he ran into some problems late. In the sixth, he loaded bases with one out, but induced an inning-ending double play. He wasn't so lucky in the seventh, allowing three straight hits to lead off the inning before he was pulled. Martinez was charged with two runs on seven hits over six-plus innings with six strikeouts and five walks.

Zach Duke, who came in to relieve Martinez in the seventh, made things interesting by loading the bases with one out, but he got Scott Schebler to pop out, and Brandon Moss caught Tyler Holt tagging up at the plate to end the inning.

"That throw was right on the money," Matheny said. "Either in the outfield or at first base, [Moss] will be a plus defender for us."

Double your fun: Martinez held the Reds scoreless through the first five innings, then ran into trouble in the sixth. A leadoff walk to Joey Votto was followed by hits from Eugenio Suarez and Jose Peraza that loaded the bases. The threat was extinguished when Ramon Cabrera grounded into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play. Martinez leads all NL pitchers with 30 double plays induced, four shy of John Denny's 1978 franchise record. More >

Martinez escapes a jam

Hamilton's early exit: After taking a 2-0 strike in the third inning, center fielder Billy Hamilton appeared injured, walking around outside the batter's box before stopping in the grass on the first-base side and leaning over. Hamilton was checked by head athletic trainer Steve Baumann and manager Bryan Price, and he was replaced mid-at-bat by Holt. The diagnosis for Hamilton is a strained left oblique. More >

"It is an oblique, and that always strikes fear into everybody, because it can be a long recovery," Reds' manager Bryan Price said. "He's going to get it, a further diagnosis, tomorrow so we'll know to what degree the issue is with the oblique. Obviously it's a tenuous injury. Certainly wouldn't expect him to be in the lineup [Monday] or the next couple of days. But hopefully we get some good news, and this isn't something that's going to affect the rest of his season."

Hamilton's injury

Wong ball: Grichuk and Wong hit home runs for St. Louis on Sunday, extending the Cardinals' franchise-record streak to 23 consecutive games with a home run. The Major League record is 27, set by the 2002 Texas Rangers. San Diego had a 25-game streak earlier this season.

Wong's solo smash

Season debuts: The Reds had two players make their 2016 debuts on Sunday. Hernan Iribarren made the start at second base with Brandon Phillips out for the second straight day with a left foot injury. Iribarren recorded his first Major League hit since 2009 in the seventh inning and then came around to score on a double by Ivan De Jesus Jr. In the prior half-inning, reliever Wandy Peralta made his Major League debut out of the bullpen, pitching a scoreless inning and recording his first career strikeout against Jedd Gyorko. More >

Peralta's first career strikeout

"It was better today. There weren't as many stretches where I felt like I was in jams. I was able to minimize the baserunners for the most part. Sometimes the result is not exactly what you're looking for, but when you focus on the process a little bit, sometimes that can put a positive spin on that." -- Adleman

"It was important for me to get this win." -- Martinez, on preventing St. Louis from being swept in the series.

• The Cardinals are 14-2 against Cincinnati when Carlos Martinez pitches for St. Louis.

• Iribarren's single was his first in 2,569 days, which is the longest time between Major League hits for any non-pitcher since Erick Almonte got his second hit after a span of 2,745 days on April 2, 2011, for the Brewers.

Iribarren's single to left

In the top of the sixth, Piscotty attempted a stolen base on an 0-1 pitch to Yadier Molina. Shortstop Zack Cozart applied a swift tag, but Piscotty was ruled safe. The Reds challenged the safe call, but it was confirmed, keeping Piscotty at second base.

Piscotty swipes second

Cardinals: The Cardinals open a critical three-game series between National League postseason contenders when they face Pittsburgh at 3:05 p.m. CT at PNC Park. The Bucs are 3 1/2 games behind the Cards for the second NL Wild Card spot. Adam Wainwright (9-8. 4.53) will start for St. Louis against rookie right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-2, 3.70).

Reds: The Reds continue their homestand, hosting the Mets for some Labor Day baseball with a 1:10 p.m. ET first pitch. Rookie Robert Stephenson makes his third career start, but first since April 19. Stephenson posted a 4.41 ERA in 24 starts for Triple-A Louisville this season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Andy Call is a contributor to

Cody Pace is a reporter for based in Cincinnati.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.