One error. One collision. One near collision. One missing cutoff man, leading to one overthrow. One botched rundown play. Two runners erased on the bases.
No, the Reds didn’t exactly play one of interim manager Jim Riggleman’s coveted “clean” games on Wednesday, but they produced more than enough offense to make up for their defensive and baserunning gaffes.
Eugenio Suarez homered in a third straight game for the first time in his career, Tucker Barnhart added his own two-run shot and Adam Duvall contributed a solo homer, leading the Reds to a satisfying 7-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of their three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
“It is nice, man,” Suarez said. “I didn’t expect to hit that one out. One more against St. Louis is nice. We always want to beat St. Louis, especially today. My family was here. I know I have a little bit of pop. The ball was out, off the plate. My barrel caught the ball and hit it out.”
Phillip Ervin broke the game open with a two-run double in the ninth, salting away Cincinnati’s second win in the series and giving the Reds consecutive series wins over St. Louis for the first time since 2011.
Suarez tied Monday’s game with a two-out solo homer in the ninth inning and Tuesday’s game with a two-out, two-run, seventh-inning shot.
The Cardinals had rookie starters each go deep without allowing a hit in the first two games of the series. The Reds went 7 1/3 innings without a hit on Monday and 6 1/3 without a hit on Tuesday.
The Cardinals loaded the bases against Sal Romano with two outs in the first inning when Suarez dropped a popup in short left field while trying to avoid left fielder Adam Duvall and shortstop Jose Peraza and second Scooter Gennett collided behind the mound going after a chopper. The Reds also botched a rundown play with the bases loaded before Sal Romano, pitching for the first time in 10 days and starting for the first time in 15, got out of the jam by getting Dexter Fowler to ground out to Suarez.
“That inning, I talked to Scooter and everybody,” Suarez said. “That first inning was crazy. A couple bloopers – it was like, ‘Wow, what happened?’ I tried to tell (Romano), ‘We got your back, to throw a strike.’ Fowler hit a little ground ball to me and we got out of the innings.”
“It’s baseball,” said Romano, who was pitching for the first time in 10 days and starting for the first time in 15. “The balls they hit hard that inning were right at guys. The balls they didn’t hit found a hole. It makes you a better pitcher when you get out of those innings.
“I didn’t feel any different not to pitch for 10 days,” he added. “I just took a deep breath and decided to trust my stuff.”
Peraza also was charged with Cincinnati’s only official error, and the Reds allowed a runner to advance in that same inning by messing up a cutoff play. They also lost two runners on the bases, with Billy Hamilton getting picked off first base and Scooter Gennett getting caught off second on a soft liner to the shortstop – in front of him.
“We played poorly in the first,” Riggleman admitted. “There was a lot of fluky stuff. Somehow or other, (Romano) came out with a zero. It shows how hard he competed. He battled. He knew our bullpen was short. He gets a lot of ground balls as the game goes on.
“I hate to say we didn’t play well but there was a lot of fluky stuff. They got out of a rundown on us. It felt like we were losing the game, we were in so much trouble each inning.”
The outcome still was in doubt in the eighth when the Cardinals loaded the bases against Jared Hughes with two outs and Yadier Molina at the plate. Molina, who hit his 23rdcareer against the Reds an inning earlier off David Hernandez, could manage only a routine fly ball to Ervin in right field.
“Hughes is such a great competitor,” Riggleman said. “As much as (Matt) Carpenter can hurt you. Yady – that is the situation he’s famous for. He’s made his bones on those situation, but Jared got him. He’s a Reds killer.”
Except on Wednesday.