By HAL McCOY
It wasn’t a night game so there wasn’t a full moon hanging over Great American Ball Park Sunday. It just seemed that way.
The St. Louis Cardinals rescued the final game of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2, in a game featuring a passel of bizarre events that screamed, ‘Full moon, full moon.’
Billy Hamilton was batting in the third inning and took a pitch. No swing. It was a ball. But he winced in pain and was removed from the game with the dreaded strained oblique, an injury that sidelined Zack Cozart, Anthony DeSclafani and Tim Adleman for long periods of time already this year.
Brandon Phillips was in the original lineup, but his sore foot from a foul tip two games ago, forced him to step out and he was replaced by Hernan Iribarren, recalled from Class AAA Louisville on Sunday. He is 33 and was making only his second major league start and owns more than 4,400 minor-league at bats.
WANDY PERALTA, RECALLED FROM Louisville on September 1, made his major league debut in the seventh inning, the 12th Reds player this year to make his first big league appearance.
St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez issued a career-high five walks over the course of the afternoon, but when in trouble he coaxed double play ground balls. He got two Sunday and leads the league by inducing 31 ground ball double plays. The Reds hit into four double plays, two by Ramon Cabrera.
In their previous three games, the Cardinals had scored a total of four runs, all on solo home runs, including all three runs they scored in the two losses to the Reds Friday (3-2) and Saturday (9-1).
SURE ENOUGH, RANDAL GRICHUK hit a two-run home run to right field off Tim Adleman in the second. Then Kolten Wong homered on Adleman’s first pitch of the fifth for a 3-0 Cardinals lead.
That meant the last seven runs they scored all came on home runs.
THEN CAME THE MOST BIZARRE trip around the bases this year by a baserunner, a trip performed by Cardinal Stephen Piscotty.
It began when he dribbled a roller up the first base line. He clearly ran inside the base line and should have been called out when he blocked first baseman Joey Votto’s view. Votto missed catcher Ramon Cabrera’s throw for an error. Manager Bryan Price pleaded his case with the umpires, but Piscotty was left on first base.
Diaz had Piscotty picked off when he broke for second, but Votto’s throw to second was late and Piscotty had a stolen base. The Reds asked for a review and he was ruled safe.
Yadier Molina blooped a single to center and Piscotty stopped on his way to third. Center fielder Tyler Holt, Hamilton’s replacement, didn’t see him and threw to second, enabling Piscotty to recover and scoot to third.
And then he scored from third when Diaz threw a pickoff throw to first over Votto’s head, enabling Molina to take second.
The fun wasn’t over, though. Molina took third on a fly ball and scored on Diaz’s wild pitch to make it 5-0. The line on that inning: Two runs, one hit, two errors and a wild pitch.
IRIBAREN WAS LEADING the International League in hitting at .327 with two games to go when he received his promotion. He has been a pro for 12 years, mostly in the minors, and hadn’t started a big league game since 2008 with Milwaukee. He batted four times singled to left field in the seventh and then scored on pinch-hitter Ivan DeJesus Jr.’s double.
Then more strangeness. Earlier in the game, Votto singled when the ball struck second base and evaded the shortstop. In the seventh, the Reds scored their second run when Tyler Holt’s ball struck second base and bounced into center field, scoring DeJesus Jr.
More? Eugenio singled off the pitcher’s glove in that same seventh inning to fill the bases with one out and the Reds down, 5-2. Amazingly, after getting ahead 3-and-0, Scott Schebler flied to right and Holt was thrown out at home trying to score after the catch, ending the inning.
Peralta, a left hander, replaced Diaz to pitch the seventh and retired his first two hitters on pop-ups to second, walked a batter, then struck out Matt Carpenter.
And. . .Joey Votto singled off left hander Zach Duke in the seventh and is 13 for 24 with a home run in his career against Duke.
The scorchingly hot Jose Peraza had three hits and was 5 for 8 in the series Since his recall from Louisville on August 22 he is hitting .490.