An early four-run lead for the Cincinnati Reds dissipated over the long course of a sticky St. Louis night, a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals in Busch Stadium III.
The Reds scored four runs in the third inning, then shut it down for the night as the Cardinals chipped away.
The Reds had only two hits and a walk the rest of the way and 16 of the last 17 went down.
The Cardinals rallied to tie the game, then took the lead in the eighth when St. Louis third baseman Nolan Arenado unloaded a two-run home run off Reds relief pitcher Lucas Sims.
Sims had retired 21 of the previous 22 batters he faced when he gave up a one-out double to Paul Goldschmidt. Arenado clobbered the next pitch over the left-center fence.
After Goldschmidt’s double, first base was open, a chance to intentionally walk the ever-dangerous Arenado.
“You consider that all the time,” said Reds manager David Bell about an intentional walk. “But I trust Lucas Sims in that situation and that’s nothing against Arenado. He is a great player, a great hitter.
“I don’t love putting another runner on and whenever possible I’m going to trust our pitchers,” he added. “And definitely when it is Lucas out there with the ability to get the best hitters out.”
Sims struck out the side in one inning Friday when the Reds scored two in the ninth to beat the Cardinals, 4-2.
“It’s a tough game,” said Bell. “Lucas Sims has been pitching as well as anybody. His stuff has been unbelievably good. That’s what happens when you go up against get hitters, some of the best in the game. We won’t let his confidence get hurt from that. He has been so good.”
The Cardinals evened the series at one game apiece as the Reds try to break a string of five straight series losses, all by two games to one.
And it enabled the Cardinals to scramble back within two games of the Reds for the second National League wild card spot. The Philadelphia Phillies won and crept to within 2 1/2 of the Reds.
“It’s great competition and you always expect the best from all these teams we’re playing,” said Bell. “Certainly, you can always expect something like this from them.”
The Reds provided Castillo with the four-run lead in the third with two-run home runs by Jonathan India, his 20th, and Nick Castellanos, his career-best 28th.
Castillo, though, was not up to protecting it. After getting four runs, he gave up four runs and eight hits over seven innings. But Bell praised him.
“You look at the way Luis pitched … he pitched really well,” said Bell. “Paul DeJong had some nice swings off him and hit a home run. Outside of that he was really good, just gave up some infield hits. He had so much movement on his pitches. He was really good.”
After the Reds took the 4-0 lead in the top of the third, Dejong cleared the left field wall in the bottom of the third. 4-1.
Harrison Bader followed DeJong’s home run with a double and scored on Tommy Edman’s single. 4-2.
With two outs and nobody on in the sixth, Tyler O’Neill was called out at first on a ground ball, but replay/review reversed the call. Nolan Arenado tripled to left. 4-3.
Dylan Carlson blooped one to shallow center on which shortstop Jose Barrero and center fielder Tyler Naquin collided. Naquin left the game on the run-scoring hit. 4-4.
And that’s how it stood until Goldschmidt and Arenado took care of things against Sims in the eighth.
The Reds went down silently in the ninth against closer Giovany Gallegos — pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson struck out, Mike Moustakas struck out and pinch-hitter Asdrubel Cabrera grounded out.
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