CINCINNATI -- Trying to hang on to their quickly fading postseason hopes, the Cardinals needed an early comeback then some late clutch hitting. It added up to an 8-7 victory over the Reds in 10 innings on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
Dexter Fowler was responsible for two big St. Louis runs with a solo home run in the eighth inning and an RBI double in the 10th. Reds reliever Tim Adleman began the extra frame by hitting Kolten Wong with a pitch. Wong stole second base and scored the go-ahead run on Fowler's RBI double to right field. An RBI single by Paul DeJong provided insurance.
Scooter Gennett tightened the game when he led off the bottom of the 10th with a homer to right-center field, his 26th of the season. But lefty Tyler Lyons got the last two outs for the save.
Victories by the first-place Cubs and second-place Brewers meant no ground was gained in the National League Central standings. St. Louis remains in third place, six games out of first, with an elimination number of seven. However, they improved to 3 1/2 games back for the second spot in the NL Wild Card race with the Rockies losing to the Giants.
"We're not out of it," Wong said. "People may talk about how we're done, but we don't believe that."
Fowler has been banged up this month with hand and knee injuries, but he's battling through them.
"Injuries are part of the game," Fowler said. "You wish you were not hurt, but you have to battle around it. When you're hurt and you go out and play, it builds mental toughness. We're trying to push for the playoffs and win a championship."
The Cardinals, who were held to six runs total in a three-game sweep by the Cubs over the weekend, scored their sixth run of the game in the eighth inning when Fowler hit the game-tying solo homer to right-center field. The drive against Kevin Shackelford barely cleared the wall and even touched the glove of center fielder Scott Schebler. It was the first hit allowed by the Reds' bullpen after 3 1/3 innings of work.
"We came up with big hits in big situations," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The one missing element has been the big hit."
In his second big league start, and first since July 1, Jackson Stephens briskly went from perfect game to being knocked out of the game. After he retired the first 10 batters, Stephens gave up five runs in the top of the fourth. Three straight singles, including Juan Martinez's RBI bloop to right field preceded back-to-back home runs. Yadier Molina hit a three-run shot to left, and DeJong followed with a solo homer to center field to give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead.
"I just didn't execute pitches," Stephens said. "I was pounding the zone pretty much all night, then kind of got behind in some counts. I had fastball counts and didn't execute the pitch. They hit it."
The night was even briefer for Cardinals rookie starter Jack Flaherty, who was pulled after allowing two earned runs and three hits over two innings. Cincinnati, which was making hard contact from the get-go, got a first-inning RBI single from Joey Votto and a sacrifice fly from Patrick Kivlehan in the second inning for a quick 2-0 lead. Zack Cozart's two-run homer in the third inning against reliever John Gant made it a four-run game, but the night was far from over.
It was a game that underscored what managers can do with expanded rosters in September, as the teams combined to use 16 pitchers, eight each.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Molina mashed it: After a 1-for-11 showing vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Molina gave the Cards a big lift in the fourth-inning rally. Molina deposited a 1-1 fastball from Stephens into the left-field upper deck to tie the game at 4. It was Molina's 18th homer of the season and the 19th of his career vs. Cincinnati -- his most vs. any opponent.
Jam escaped: Lefty reliever Ryan Sherriff, who worked out of an inherited jam in the seventh inning by striking out Votto, created his own mess in the eighth by walking a batter and hitting another with one out. Right-hander Matt Bowman was summoned, and he came through by striking out Kivlehan before getting Stuart Turner to ground out to second base to keep the score tied, 6-6. Cincinnati was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"It is beneficial this time of year to have a lot of extra players. The thing that doesn't benefit you is when you take a look at a bullpen or bench, it's hard to get a matchup. They can burn a couple of guys to get the right guy up there. Not a lot of matchup baseball left in September." -- Reds manager Bryan Price
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: The series in Cincinnati continues Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. CT at Great American Ball Park with Luke Weaver (6-1, 1.89) trying to win his seventh consecutive decision. Weaver allowed only an unearned run in six innings vs. the Reds in a 5-2 St. Louis victory Thursday.
Reds:Rookie Davis will return to the rotation and start Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. ET game vs. St. Louis. Davis, 24, made five starts earlier this season and was 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA before being sent to Triple-A Louisville. Since his recall earlier this month, he has made one relief appearance, allowing two earned runs in two innings vs. the Cardinals on Sept. 12 in a 13-4 Reds loss at Busch Stadium.