CINCINNATI – For the third time in four days, the Cardinals collected double-figures in both hits and runs as St. Louis won the deciding game against the Reds 15-2 in front of 39,618 fans at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
“It’s a great feeling,” Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter said after snapping his o-fer streak. “But, it’s even better to watch us come out and win a series in convincing fashion. It was a great team win and it was fun to join the action.”
The Cardinals opened the game with consecutive flyouts to center field before collecting four straight two-out hits. Of those, three were for extra bases.
Allen Craig picked up the Redbirds' first hit of the afternoon. Matt Holliday followed with a double that scored Craig and 12 pitches into the game, the Cardinals led 1-0.
The next batter, David Freese, also doubled as St. Louis quickly doubled its lead to 2-0. That brought Matt Adams to the plate who was mired in a 2-for-19 slump with nine punchouts. Adams promptly sent a Mike Leake offering 362-feet into the right field seats for a 4-0 Cardinals lead.
Cincinnati cut the lead in half in the second inning.
Jay Bruce had a one-out single to second that Carpenter made a great diving stop on. Had anyone been covering first base, Bruce would have been out.
“Once I of saw Adams kind of shut down,” Lance Lynn said, “I thought it was by and gone. I didn’t realize that Carp was in the hole like he was. But, on a ball like that, I need to be on my horse to first base until the right fielder picks it up and that was my mistake and it cost me a run today.”
Carpenter was surprised no one was covering first.
“I am focused on the ball so I am diving and looking up and there is nobody there,” Carpenter said. “I understand. That is what happens. Adams was taking the aggressive approach thinking he was gonna get to the ball and it probably looked like a hit all the way too. So it is kind of just one of those crazy plays where nobody expected anything.”
Following a strikeout, Zach Cozart blasted Lynn’s pitch 425-feet to left.
“I made one mistake,” Lynn said. “It cost me two runs. Other than that, it was a pretty good day.”
Cozart, Lynn’s college teammate, finished the game 2-for-3 with the long home run and a 10-foot single.
“He is not going to be too comfortable next time,” Lynn said. “That is a good day when you can go 420-feet and 10-feet and go 2-for-3. You can’t beat that.
“In the first at bat he did a good job of getting ahead of the count from me,” Lynn continued. “And that last at bat, he just got a nubber for a hit and you will take those any day of the week. I am sure he was happy about his day.”
St. Louis maintained its 4-2 lead until the sixth inning when the Cardinals sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times to take a 9-2 lead.
The sixth started with three straight singles, and with the help of an error by Bruce in right field, St. Louis expanded its lead to 5-2 on Adams second hit of the game.
That was the last batter for Leake (10-5) as Reds’ manager Dusty Baker went to his bullpen and brought in Ondrusek to face Tony Cruz, who took Ondrusek’s second pitch and drilled it up the middle for an RBI single. Three pitches later, Daniel Descalso doubled down the right field line to score Adams.
After another error, this one by Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier, allowed Lynn to reach, the bases were loaded with no outs.
It took just three pitches for Carpenter to snap his 0-for-22 funk with a two-run double to right field, pushing the lead to 9-2.
“At that point I was just so relieved to hit a ball on the barrel,” Carpenter said. “I didn’t care what happened. I felt good to hit that and it was a great team win. The bats really took off so it was fun to be a part of it.”
Carpenter credited teammate Carlos Beltran with ending the slump.
“Carlos (Beltran) came over to me and mentioned something,” Carpenter said. “I went out there and thought about what he said and was able to make some things happen. … Ever since he told me, I have two hits and a walk, so it was pretty good advice.”
Freese made it 10-2 when he led off the seventh with his sixth homer of the year, a 391-foot shot to center while Craig added an RBI single in the eighth.
With one out, Cruz launched a solo shot 368-feet in the ninth before back to back doubles from Descalso and pinch hitter Rob Johnson led to another run. Following a single by Carpenter, Jay roped the third double of the inning to plate Johnson and Carpenter to close out the Cardinals' scoring.
St. Louis pounded Reds’ pitchers for 19 total hits, 10 of which went for extra bases.
Freese finished the day 3-for-4 and was a triple play shy of hitting for the cycle. Jay also turned in a three hit day, going 3-for-5 with two runs batted in. Carpenter, Craig, Holliday, Adams, Cruz and Descalo all finished with a pair of hits. With the exception of Lynn, every member of the starting lineup finished with at least two hits and an RBI. Jay was the only starter not to score a run.
“We got a little bit of everything today,” Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny said. “With the power, situational hitting, and making the plays, it was just a good all round effort.”
On the mound, Lynn (13-5) had just two rough innings, the second and the eighth. Lynn said he felt good. Lynn allowed just four hits and two runs over eight innings of work.
“I had pretty good command of all four pitches today,” Lynn said. “When you have that, it makes it a lot easier to pitch. I was able to use most of them to both sides of the plate.”
Except for the second inning, Lynn retired the side in order through the first six innings. It wasn’t until the seventh when Cincinnati got its first leadoff batter on base safely. But even then, the Cardinals' defense came up with a 5-6-3 double play to limit the Reds to just three batters.
In the eighth, Cincinnati loaded the bases with the help of Lynn’s first two walks of the game. But, he got out of it unscathed with a strikeout to end the inning.
“When you are in a situation like that and you walk two guys, it is very aggravating,” Lynn said. “But, to be able to get the last out of the inning and not have to go to our bullpen for just one out in the eighth, and to have a fresh inning for whatever reliever was coming in is just nice.”
Lynn struck out at least one batter in every inning he worked, including setting the side down on strikes in the sixth. For the second time this season, Lynn reached double figures in strikeouts, fanning a season-high 11 Reds while pitching a season-high eight innings.
“Between my last three starts,” Lynn said, “I had the best stuff I have had all year. Today was one of those days where I had four pitches all on both sides of the plate and (Cincinnati) had never seen that out of me before today. It is something we have been working on and it is starting to all click.”
The eight innings pitched tied Lynn’s career high.
“I was lobbying for nine today,” Lynn said. “I think if I hadn’t walked the two guys in the eighth after not walking anybody all day I would have had an opportunity to do that.”
Manthey was pleased with the performance his starter gave on the mound.
“He had everything working on both sides,” Matheny said. “He was expanding the zone well and more efficient than we have seen him in a long time.”
The Cardinals will now return home to Busch Stadium for the start of an 11-day home stand, starting with four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.