McCoy: Reds handle first-place Cardinals

In Major League Baseball, on any given night one of the worst teams can look like one of the best and one of the best teams can look like one of the worst.

That was the case Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park when the Cincinnati Reds (50-77) put it to the first-place St. Louis Cardinals (75-54), 5-1.

On this night, the Reds had it all — solid pitching, timely hitting and perfect defense.

It began with outstanding pitching from starter Justin Dunn, who held the Cardinals to one run and three hits.

But after the fourth inning and only 60 pitches, Dunn had a dugout conversation with athletic trainer Tomas Vera and left the game. He trailed, 1-0, because of Tommy Edman’s home run leading off the third.

Newcomer Derek Law, called up from Class AAA Louisville before the game, pitched two scoreless one-hit innings. Law was the 60th different player to appear for the Reds, a club record, and the 34th pitcher, one shy of the team record.

Joel Kuhnel followed with a 1-2-3 seventh, Buck Farmer pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

Alex Diaz was asked to close it out in the ninth by facing the filet mignon of the St. Louis batting order — Brendan Donovan, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.

He fell behind Donovan 3-and-0, then struck him out. He also fell behind Goldschmit 3-and-0 and walked him. Goldschmidt is hitless in the first two games of the series with five strikeouts.

Arenado flied out to center and brought up Tyler O’Neill, who had five homers in his previous seven games, including two Monday during the Cardinals’ 13-4 victory. Diaz struck him out on a slider in the dirt to end it.

Law, a 34-year-old right hander, previously pitched for San Francisco, Toronto, Minnesota and Detroit and brought a 10-6 career record with a 4.22 earned run average to the Reds. The Reds signed him a week ago after the Tigers granted him free agency.

His two scoreless innings earned him the win in his Reds’ debut.

Offensively, the Reds put an all-out assault on St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson in the third inning, five straight hits and four runs.

It began with a single by No. 8 hitter Alejo Lopez, who had three hits. Then No. 9 hitter Austin Romine, who spent six weeks with the Cardinals earlier this season, crushed a two-run home run.

Jonathan India singled, advancing his hitting streak to 13 games, and he scored on Jake Fraley’s double. Kyle Farmer singled to score Fraley and give the Reds a 4-1 lead.

The Reds stretched their lead to 5-1 in the fifth on three straight singles by India, Fraley and Farmer that loaded the bases, then India scored while Donovan Solano hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Cardinals, leading the National League Central by six games when the night began, had won 13 of their previous 16 games.

But they mustered only four hits, only one against the Reds bullpen over the final five innings.

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