"To lose today would have been tough," Matt Holliday said. "For this early in the season, it feels like the season has been longer than it actually has. Sitting around for four hours and staying sharp mentally is a challenge."
Holliday was one of four starters to reach base three times, and that arrival of the offense helped salvage a laborious start from Lance Lynn, whose season debut started as ominously as the early afternoon storms that delayed his start by three hours and 42 minutes. Lynn was tattooed by a pair of first-inning home runs by Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier, totaling 923 feet in length.
The Reds later scored three runs on another Frazier homer -- this time off Pat Neshek in the seventh -- but it was not enough to topple the Cardinals, who scored seven times in between.
"I guess after two runs scored in the first two games, everybody was ready to go," said Lynn, who stranded six runners over the final four scoreless innings of his five-inning start. "I was prepared for them to come out and swing it, and after the first inning, I was able to make some pitches when I needed to."
In front of a Great American Ball Park announced crowd of 16,857, the Cardinals' offense started to peel away the deficit in the second . After Matt Adams extended the inning with a two-out single, Peralta tallied his first hit as a Cardinal. He lined it 344 feet over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.
Adams eluded the defensive shift for a fourth time in the series with an opposite-field double in his next at-bat and scored the tying run on Jon Jay's double to left-center. Jay, making his first start of the season, extended his hitting streak to 15 with the RBI hit.
Holliday gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game with an RBI double off Reds starter Homer Bailey in the fifth.
"They battled in their two-strike counts and they took some close pitches," Reds manager Bryan Price said of the Cardinals. "They did a lot of good things. I don't think it was necessarily that Homer was bad, but they were very good at defending the plate and scrapping their way through some tough pitches until they could get something they could handle."
A series absent of instant replay through the first two games had its first reviewed play in the seventh. Holliday, with runners on first and second, lifted a ball to deep center that Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton attempted to catch as he jumped into the wall.
As the ball caromed back toward the field, Bruce, in right field, dove and caught the ball before it hit the grass. The call created some initial confusion, leading to Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter advancing only one base despite Holliday's gesture to keep running.
"I saw it hit the wall," Holliday said. "It's just one of those plays where the runners don't know whether to run or stop."
On the field, the umpires ruled the ball was off the top of the wall -- and therefore could not be caught for an out -- and the call was confirmed following a two-minute, eight-second umpire review.
"It would have been nice for it to get a couple inches higher there," manager Mike Matheny said. "That could have been a very crazy play, but that would have been a nice one to have."
The Cardinals still scored three times before the inning ended on RBI hits by Allen Craig and Yadier Molina, as well as a wild pitch.
The four-run lead went into the hands of the lefty Kevin Siegrist, who was unable to retire either of the two left-handed batters -- Joey Votto or Bruce -- that he faced. Neshek relieved him and served up Frazier's second homer. Two of the three runs were charged to Siegrist, who boasted the Majors' longest active scoreless streak (25 2/3 innings) heading into the appearance.
While Neshek inherited a spot that was regularly Seth Maness' to handle in 2013, Matheny later explained he was holding back Maness in case he needed a long reliever in extra innings.
Neshek rebounded to retire the next four batters. Following a walk to Hamilton, Trevor Rosenthal was called upon for the four-out save to close the night seven hours and 23 minutes after the scheduled start time.
"It's tough to stay mentally into it," Adams said, "but that's what we had to do to make sure we go out there and perform."
Despite the grind, Lynn earned the win. The Reds extended him by routinely fouling off his fastballs, inflating Lynn's pitch count at 78 through three innings. After his troublesome first inning, Lynn did wiggle out of a bases-loaded jam -- set up by outfield miscommunication between Holliday and Jay -- in the third with a strikeout and flyout.
He later closed his 105-pitch start with his only 1-2-3 frame of the afternoon.
"Today was good to set my sights on what the season is going to be like, to see how things are going to go," Lynn said. "Everybody was able to get back locked in and win the first series. That's always a great feeling. You never want to lose the first series."