The Reds looked forward to finding out where they stood with three games against the best team in baseball, the Cardinals. Now they know.
St. Louis beat Cincinnati 11-4 in 10 innings on Sunday night at Great American Ball Park in a game that ended one minute before midnight. The Cardinals stretched their lead in the National League Central Division to four games and improved to 6-3 against the Reds this season. It’s the fifth straight time the Reds have lost a series to St. Louis, something that hadn’t happened since 2006-07.
“It’s disappointing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That was a game we had the lead until the late innings. We’ve got to find a way to hold that.”
The Reds finished 2-4 on the homestand and couldn’t build on the momentum they had after winning 4-2 Saturday.
“We battled back from a 9-2 loss in game one,” Reds starter Bronson Arroyo said. “It would have really been nice to be down ony two games, but we’re down four now, and we move on to Chicago.”
A crowd of 38,023 saw the Reds (37-26) twice blow two-run leads. Still, the Cardinals (41-22) didn’t lead until the 10th when they scored three runs off J.J. Hoover, the fourth Reds reliever of the night.
Daniel Descalso’s one-out double brought in the first run, and then Matt Carpenter singled with two outs to score two more.
The Reds might have had a slim chance to come back from three runs with the heart of their order coming up, but Curtis Partch replaced Hoover and gave up a grand slam to the first batter he ever faced in the big leagues, Matt Holliday.
“That’s not a situation we’d like to bring Parch in, but Hoover had 30-some pitches,” Baker said. “It was a bad series of events. They started scoring, and then they got a jam hit and some infield hits, a bloop and a blast.”
The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the first. A single by Brandon Phillips scored Shin-Soo Choo, and a sacrifice fly by Jay Bruce scored Joey Votto.
The lead survived until the fourth when the Cardinals tied it. Carlos Beltran led off the inning with his team-best 14th home run of the season. The next batter, Holliday, doubled off the wall in left and scored two batters later on a double by Yadier Molina.
The Reds caught a break at the end of the fourth when Descalso lined a shot off Bronson Arroyo’s leg. Arroyo recovered, picked up the ball and threw him out before limping to the locker room like a wounded deer.
Arroyo returned to the game and pitched two more scoreless innings. He left after six innings, having allowed two runs on six hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
“Going back out in the sixth, I was having a hard time putting my weight on it,” Arroyo said. “Once I made it through the sixth, I felt strong, and my pitch count was low enough to go back out one more time. But I just felt it was better for the ballclub if somebody went out there fresh instead of me putting a couple guys on and them having to come in and clean up that inning.”
For a short time, Arroyo was the pitcher of record because the Reds jumped back in front with two runs in the fifth. Bruce provided the big hit. A nine-pitch at-bat that saw Bruce and Cardinals starter Lance Lynn pause to get their breath several times ended with Bruce doubling to right to score Derrick Robinson and Choo.
Bruce’s season RBI total soared to 43 with that hit, leaving him two short of Phillips. Bruce has 32 RBIs in his last 32 games.
The 4-2 lead didn’t last long. St. Louis rallied in the seventh. Sam LeCure, one of the most dependable arms in the Reds bullpen, left after giving up a single, double and a single to start the seventh. The third hit in that sequence, by Matt Carpenter, scored Jon Jay.
Alfredo Simon then replaced LeCure and gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Beltran.
At that point, the Reds had to be thinking their earlier missed opportunities would cost them.
They put the first two runners on in the second, but Arroyo bunted into a double play, killing that rally. They might have had runners at first and third with two outs in the third, but Votto was thrown out at third after a single by Bruce.
Another promising rally ended in the seventh when Phillips grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second and one out.
The Reds didn’t get a hit in the last three innings and struck out six times.