By HAL McCOY
The Cincinnati Reds received a clear and vivid snapshot of what they expected Cody Reed can be and will be in Busch Stadium III Monday night.
Unfortunately for Reed and the Reds, what should have been Reed’s first major league victory turned into the nightmare of all nightmares.
The Reds led, 4-0, going into the bottom of the ninth and closer Tony Cingrani had two outs and a runner on first — one out away from an easy victory.
NOT ANOTHER OUT WAS recorded. The next seven runners reached base and the Reds lost, 5-4. And how did it end? You won’t believe it.
When the Cardinals cut it to 4-3 against Cingrani, manager Bryan Price brought in Ross Ohlendorf, last seen giving up a walk-off home run Friday night in Pittsburgh to Sean Rodriguez.
This time, with the bases loaded, he walked Brandon Moss to force in the tying run and then, are you ready for this, he hit Yadier Molina with a pitch to force in the winning run.
UNTIL THE NINTH, THE night belonged to Reed.
When Reed began his major league career 0-and-5 with a 7.30 earned run average in his first eight starts, Price was asked over and over, “How long can you go with this guy and how long of a rope and shore of a leash does he have?”
And Price kept saying Reed was here to stay, that his stuff is big league stuff and it was only a matter of him harnessing his emotions.
WELL, THE 23-YEAR-OLD left hander from Memphis, Tenn. harnessed both himself and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Reed held the Cardinals scoreless on four hits over his six innings, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. He had runners on base in each of his first five innings before pitching a 1-2-3 sixth en route to what should have been his first major-league victory. When Ohlendorf hit Molina to end the game, Fox broadcaster Chris Welsh said incredulously, “Did this really happen?”
It certainly did.
Command and control were major problems for the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Reed with the weird-looking goggles. On this night, though, he walked only one and threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 23 Cardinals he faced.
HIS OTHER MAJOR PROBLEM was getting through the first inning. In his previous eight starts he had given up 13 runs in the first inning, overthrowing most of his pitches.
And the Cardinals put a runner on second with one out in the first when teven Piscotty doubled. Reed snuffed it by striking out Matt Holliday and getting Brandon Moss to ground out to first.
He put one on in the second, but a double play bailed him out. The leadoff hitter, Tommy Pfam, singled to open the third and was bunted to second. Reed coaxed two ground balls and was out of it again.
He walked Yadier Molina with two outs in the fourth and Jhonny Peralta doubled, putting runners on third and second. Reed struck out Jedd Gyorko.
Left fielder Adam Duvall dropped pinch-hitter Greg Garcia’s one-out fly ball in the fifth. Reed got a 3-and-2 fly ball from Matt Carpenter and struck out Steven Piscotty.
Then he finished his pleasant night with a 1-2-3 sixth, striking out Yadier Molina to end the inning, his fourth strikeout.
THE REDS HAD WON ONLY 22 of their previous 75 (now 76) games against the Cardinals and they were facing Michael Wacha, who was 6-and-1 with a 1.97 earned run average for his career against the Reds.
The Reds, though, jumped on Wacha with both feet in the second inning after leaving the bases loaded in the first inning without scoring. They scored three runs in the second when Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhartled the inning with singles. Reed popped up a bunt and Billy Hamilton popped up.
But with two outs, Zack Cozart lined one that left felder Matt Carpenter misjudged and ir whizzed over his head for a two-run double. Joey Votto tripled, his first triple his season, and it was 3-0.
The Reds scored another run in the third when Brandon Phillips led with a double, took third on a ground ball and scored on Suarez’s ground ball for a 4-0 lead.
JUMBO DIAZ REPLACED REED in the seventh and gave up a one-out single to Gyorko. When he walked Pfam, he was replaced by Blake Wood and he celebrated his birthday by inducing a double play ground ball from pinch-hitter Matt Adams on a full count.
Wood gave up a leadoff double in the eighth to Matt Carpener (ending Carpenter’s 0 for 14 skid), but he didn’t budge from second base as Wood retired the next three. The Cardinals came into the game with a .287 average with runners in scoring position, but went 0 for 11 on this night through the first eight innings.
Cingrani took care of that in the ninth.
Cingrani gave up a leadoff single in the ninth to Molina, retired the next two on fly balls to right field. Needing one out to nail down the shutout for Reed, Cingrani walked Pfam on four pitches. He hit pinch-hitter Kolten Wong with his first pitch, loading the bases. Matt Carpenter drilled the first pitch he saw to right field for a two-run single.
Piscotty singled to left and it was 4-3. When he walked Matt Holliday to load the bases Cingrani was lifted for Ohlendorf. He promptly walked Brandon Moss on a full count, forcing in the tying run and Reed’s victory went floating down the Mississippi River. And the incredible story ended when Ohlendorf hit Molina with a pitch, forcing in the winning run.
As Welsh said, “Did this really happen?” Or, as iconic broadcaster Jack Buck once said when LA’s Kirk Gibson hit his one-legged home run in a World Series game against Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley, “I don’t believe what I just saw.”