It was another night of semi-quiet bats for the St. Louis as the Cardinals lost 2-1 to Cincinnati. The Redbirds had hits, but never bunched them up together when they needed them most.
Cardinals' ace, Adam Wainwright, gave St. Louis seven innings of solid work and the bullpen threw two scoreless innings, but it was all for not as the offense was unable to provide the needed punch behind a night of solid pitching.
The Cardinals’ lone run came in the bottom of the eighth inning off back-to-back doubles from Allen Craig and Yadier Molina. But it was too little, too late for the Cardinals.
“The guys are going about it the right way,” Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny said. “They started grinding out some at bats in the eighth, but that is a little bit late. We saw their guys doing that from the top. They (Cincinnati) were really putting together good at bats. We ended up ahead of them in the hit column, but we just couldn’t get the ones we needed with guys in scoring position.”
Shin-soo Choo got the Reds’ (15-12) offense going right away as he drilled Wainwright’s first of the game for a standup double. After moving to third on a sac bunt, Joey Votto plated Choo with a single to put the Reds out in front.
“In the first inning I really only threw one bad pitch,” Wainwright said. “I fell behind a couple of guys, but I had a feeling Choo would be swinging at the first pitch and hey that’s good. That’s a first pitch out if you execute your pitch. I just didn’t execute it and he put a good swing on it.”
The Reds added a much needed insurance run in the top of the fourth when Brandon Phillips opened the inning with a single. Jay Bruce hit what the Cardinals hoped would be a double play ball to second, but Bruce beat out the throw. Todd Frazier then doubled, moving Bruce to third before Xavier Paul hit an RBI ground out to short.
“They got some great hitters over there,” Wainwright said. “We lost a tough game. Not much more to say.”
St. Louis (14-11) outhit the Reds 7-6 while drawing one more free pass. The Cardinals left 10 runners on the bases over the course of the game.
“They (runners) were out there,” Matheny said. “We were expecting that big hit, especially when we got to two-outs. Those are the things we have been doing this season and we have been counting on that to happen, but we didn’t have it tonight.”
Wainwright left trailing 2-0 after throwing 99 pitches over seven innings of work. The Cardinals’ ace struck out six and walked a pair while scattering 5 hits.
“For the most part I was pretty solid,” Wainwright said. “Several fastballs over the middle of the plate cost us tonight. Definitely as the game wore on, I felt more comfortable and more comfortable and better and better. Early on I wasn’t as sharp and the positive what I take away from this is that I found my rhythm and where I wanted to be.”
Randy Choate and Trevor Rosenthal combined to allow just one hit while throwing two scoreless innings and striking out two.
“Rosey (Rosenthal) had a great day,” Matheny said. “So did Choate. I feel they threw the ball really well.”
Four times the Cardinals leadoff batter reached base and three times St. Louis had multiple runners on during an inning. But the Redbirds left them stranded or hit into rally-killing double plays. Only once during the game, second inning, did the Cardinals go down in order.
“We had the timely hit,” Matheny said. “We didn’t have the bunches. Those are going to come and go. It is tough to rely on those over the long haul of the season. We needed those tonight and you are playing with fire when you are expecting those to happen.”
For the Cardinals, Jon Jay and Yadier Molina were on base three times while Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig each reach base twice. Jay walked twice and as hit by a pitch while Molina was 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Carpenter walked and singled while Craig was 2-for-4 with a double and run scored.
“Some days we are going to hit and some days we won’t,” Molina said. “We can’t play with our head down and try to be down like man we are in a slump now. This team is so good. We could probably come out and score 10 runs. This is baseball. They (Cincinnati) have a good (team) over there and good pitching.”
With Latos out of the game, the Cardinals finally got some offense going in the bottom of the eighth inning. Allen Craig led off with a double and was quickly sent home when Molina followed with another double, his third hit of the game.Reds’ closer Aroldis Champman sent the Redbirds down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to end the game and push the Cardinals losing streak to three straight.
“We know he (Chapman) is going to be tough when it gets to the end of the game,” Matheny said. “Ideally we keep him out of the game.”
The Cardinals and Reds will be back at it for the second game of this three-game series tonight. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.