CINCINNATI – Following two straight days of scoring 13 runs, the Cardinals’ offense was unable to keep the scoring burst going as St. Louis lost to Cincinnati 8-3 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd (41,598) at Great American Ball Park.
Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (7-6) continued his troubles on the road this year as he walked five batters, one intentional. Of those, the first three unintentional walks came around to score and ultimately cost the Cardinals the game.
When told his manager, Mike Matheny, thought his sinker was sinking too much, Westbrook disputed the notion.
“My location was probably not as good as it needs to be,” Westbrook said. “There is no such thing as a sinker sinking too much, in my mind. I just have to figure out how to locate it and do what you need to do to be successful and I haven’t been able to do that the last couple of outings.”
Already trailing 5-1, the Cardinals best opportunity to rally came in the top of the sixth.
The first three batters, Matt Holliday, David Freese, and Daniel Descalso all reached base. With the bases loaded, Reds manager Dusty Baker went to his bullpen to face Rob Johnson. Johnson hit a comebacker up the middle to force Descalso at second base and plate Holliday, but a bad throw to first allowed Johnson to reach on an error.
So, once again, Baker went to his pen, bringing in Manny Parra to face Cardinals pinch hitter Matt Carpenter. Carpenter hit an RBI ground out to second where Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips had one play, at first. Freese was able to score on the play while Johnson advanced to second.
Brock Peterson then struck out to end the rally with the Cardinals trailing by two.
St. Louis got its first run on the board almost as soon as the game began. Jon Jay, batting leadoff with Carpenter given the night off, worked a walk to open the game. Three pitches later he came around to score, beating a throw at the plate on Carlos Beltran’s double.
Beltran quickly advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Allen Craig and David Freese both struck out with a Holliday walk sandwiched in between, to leave Beltran stranded on third and Holliday stuck on first.
St. Louis’ lead was short lived however as Cincinnati battled back to score twice in the bottom of the first, both runs coming with two outs. The Cardinals trailed the rest of the night.
Cincinnati added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Following a two-out walk, Westbrook gave up a two-run homer to put the Cards down 4-1.
“(Westbrook) got some early outs,” Matheny said. “Walks seemed to hurt him after he got a couple of outs. Then he came over the middle of the plate and gave up a couple of big hits.”
Cincinnati scored again in the bottom of the fifth and just like its previous four runs, the Reds again scored with two outs. Another two-out walk came around to score for the Reds, it was the third unintentional walk issued by Westbrook at that point and all three scored.
“(My stuff) was ok,” Westbrook said. “I just couldn’t finish off innings. I would get a couple of quick outs and then I just couldn’t put it away. Two out walks hurt me and it was another subpar performance on my part.”
Westbrook finished the night allowing four hits and five walks over five innings. He gave up five runs, all of which were earned.
“Overall, his stuff was actually much better than what the line is going to show,” Matheny said.
“I was making decent pitches,” Westbrook said. “I just put myself in situations where I needed to make a pitch and I wasn’t able to do it.”
Westbrook, who describes himself as a groundball pitcher, recorded just four outs on the ground.”
“I have to limit the walks,” the pitcher continued. “Walks aren’t very good to be successful unless you do put the ball on the ground and I wasn’t able to do that as well again tonight.”
The Reds had a chance to break the game open in the bottom of the seventh when Cincinnati got its first three runners on base. But, Matheny went to the pen and the combination of Randy Choate and Michael Blazek retired the next three batters to leave all three runners stranded.
“It was a real nice job by Randy (Choate) and a young pitcher like (Michael) Blazek to come into a big situation like that and to get us out of it,” Matheny said. “It was a momentum shift, we just weren’t able to put anything together after that.”
In the bottom of the eighth, the Reds finally scored some runs with less than two outs as Cincinnati clubbed two home runs to put the game out of reach.
Devin Mesoraco led off the frame with his second homer of the night, a solo blast. Following a walk to Todd Frazier, Sin-Soo Choo crushed a two-run shot, his 15th of the season, to right field.
The Cardinals managed just four hits in the game and three of them were doubles. Beltran, Holliday, and Freese all doubled. However, while Holliday came around to score, Beltran and Freese were both stranded at third base following their doubles.
“We had a few opportunities,” Matheny said. “But, we had trouble picking (Tony Cingrani) up and quite a few teams have. We had opportunities on the defensive side too and we fell into a hole we couldn’t get out of.”
St. Louis walked five times and struck out 12 times while leaving six runners on the bases.
The Cardinals and the Reds will conclude the series this afternoon when Lance Lynn goes after his 13th win against the Reds’ Mike Leake. First pitch is at 12:10 p.m.