By HAL McCOY
In another confrontation involving rookie pitchers for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cardinals undeniably got the better end of it Thursday afternoon in Busch Stadium III.
After Cincinnati rookie Tyler Mahle outdueled St. Louis rookie Jack Flaherty Wednesday, the Reds Amir Garrett was not up to the challenge Thursday afternoon against Luke Weaver.
The same problems that have manifested during Garrett’s tenure since his return from the minors surfaced Thursday — walks and home runs.
During his four innings, Garrett gave up five walks and three scored. And he gave up a two-run home run following one of those walks.
It led to a 5-2 defeat, the eighth straight time the Reds have lost a game started by Garrett. And it was the seventh straight game in which Reds starters failed to come up with a quality start — six or more innings, three or less runs.
On the other side, the Reds were all but helpless against Weaver. He gave up only two hits and no earned runs (one unearned) over six innings and pushed his record to 6-and-1, his sixth straight victory. And while Garrett walked five in four innings, Weaver didn’t walk any in six innings.
The Reds scored their only run in the second inning and it was unearned.Scott Schebler doubled with one out, the only hard-hit ball all day against Weaver. Schebler scored on shortstop Paul DeJong’s error and the Reds led, 1-0.
Garrett struck out the first two Cardinals in the third then took one of his walks on the wild side. He walked both Tommy Pfam and Paul DeJong. Then he ignored the runners and they stole third and second. That enabled both to score on Jose Martinez’s single for a 2-1 St. Louis lead.
Garrett started the fifth and walked Matt Carpenter. Tommy Pfam followed with his 20th home run, a drive over the right field fence for a 4-1 Cardinal lead. When Garrett walked Paul DeJong, he was lifted.
Rookie Jackson Stephens took over and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up just two hits.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Asher Wojciechowski and scored one run on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Greg Garcia.
Joey Votto walked to open the seventh against left handed relief pitcher Tyler Lyons, his league-leading 122nd walk this season and the 17th straight game in which he has reached base.
Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler struck out before Adam Duvall doubled to left field. Votto rounded third and hesitated, then continued homeward and was thrown out to end the inning.
New Cardinals closer Juan Nicasio, acquired recently from the Pittsburgh Pirates (he won’t be eligible for the playoffs in the Cardinals make it because he wasn’t on the roster before September 1), pitched the ninth.
Votto doubled with one out, but Suarez struck out for the second time (the Reds struck out 11 times). Schebler tripled to center field to make it 5-2. But Adam Duvall fouled to first base to end it.
So the Cardinals took the series two games to one and the Reds finished the road trip 2-and-5. They begin their last homestand of the season, nine games, with a three-game set beginning Friday night against Pittsburgh.