By HAL McCOY
And the beat goes on. . .and on and on and on and on.
It seems as if the St. Louis Cardinals could put a bunch of life-sized cardboard cutouts of themselves on the field and still beat the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cardinals, again, beat the Reds Friday night in Great American Ball Park, 7-6 in 10 innings, their 12th straight win over the Reds. And if the Reds don’t win one of the next two it will be the seventh straight series they’ve lost to the Cardinals.
Not even an astounding two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, 6-6, against Cardinals closer Bud Norris could turn away the losing monsoon.
Reds closer Raisel Iglesias gave up a run in the 10th inning to decide it, although the Reds still didn’t die quietly.
With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Scott Schebler doubled to right field, his fourth hit of the night (two doubles, two singles). Cardinals relief pitcher John Brebbia walked Tucker Barnhart intentionally, putting the potential winning run on base.
Why would they do that? Because the next spot in the order was Joey Votto’s, but he was removed from the game in the ninth inning for pinch-runner/rookie Brandon Dixon. So it was Dixon at the plate instead of Votto.
After lining one foul down the left field line, Dixon struck out to end an extremely exciting but frustrating game for the Reds.
Iglesias sealed his own doom, and that of the Reds, by issuing a one-out walk in the 10th on four pitches to Marcell Ozuna. Yadier (Big Pain in the Posterior) Molina poked a single to right on the hit-and-run, sending Ozuna to third. Jedd Gyorko, who entered the game late as part of a double switch, slapped a single to left field on a 1-and-2 pitch to plate the winning run.
It was Home Run Challenge Night to benefit prostate cancer research. The Cardinals responded, the Reds didn’t.
St. Louis hit three home runs in the first three innings off Reds starter Matt Harvey, two by Jose Martinez to give the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.
Harvey only gave up four hits in his six innings, but three were home runs, including a three-run rip by Martinez, who spent nine years in the minors before he made it to Busch Stadium.
Martinez started the scoring with two outs in the first inning when he hit his first home run. It was a wind-blown fly ball the opposite way, over the right field wall just 342 feet from home plate on a hanging slider thrown by Harvey.
Harvey retired the first two in the second inning before shortstop Yairo Munoz cleared the left field wall to make it 2-0.
The Reds scored a run off St. Louis starter Luke Weaver in the bottom of the second. Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker singled and Suarez scored when the Cardinals couldn’t turn a double play on Jose Peraza.
Harvey walked Matt Carpenter to open the third and Tommy Pham singled. That brought up Martinez, who probably was taking some heavy ribbing from his teammates for his mini-homer that traveled 342 feet in the first inning.
Martinez shut everybody up when he reversed a Harvey change-up 408 feet over the left center wall, a three-run rip that gave the Cardinals a 5-1 lead.
Harvey found himself after that home run and retired 11 of the last 13 he faced and both runners reached on walks.
And the Reds began chipping away, one run at a time until they scored two in the ninth.
They scored one in the third with two outs and nobody on when Joey Votto walked and Scooter Gennett doubled him home, Gennett’s 45th RBI, one off the league lead owned by Chicago’s Javier Baez. 5-2.
The Reds had two on with two outs in the fifth when Weaver walked Eugenio Suarez to fill the bases and walked Jesse Winker on four pitches to force in a run. But with the bases still loaded, Peraza popped to shallow right field. 5-3.
Weaver walked pinch-hitter Alex Blandino on a full count, the 10th pitch of Blandino’s at bat. The Cardinals brought in rookie Austin Gobber for his third major league appearance. And it was evident he was as nervous as somebody sitting in a dentist’s waiting room with a root canal in his future.
He walked Billy Hamilton. Scott Schebler hit into a double play, sending Hamilton to third. Tucker Barnhart walked. Joey Votto singled home Hamilton and the Reds had runners on second and first.
Strangely and bizarrely, Barnhart broke for third base on a low pitch and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina easily threw him out at third, ending the uprising and, as it turned out, a major faux pas. 5-4.
The Cardinals retrieved that run in the seventh against Michael Lorenzen. He walked the first batter he faced, No. 8 hitter Kolten Wong, hitting .190. A ground ball, a wild pitch and Matt Carpenter’s single made it 6-4.
The Reds then got a heavy dose in the eighth inning from Cardinals set-up pitcher Jordan Hicks, the hardest thrower in baseball, harder than Aroldis Chapman.
Coming in Hicks had thrown 151 pitches above 100 miles an hour to Chapman’s 90. He pushed that to 158. He threw 10 pitches in a 1-2-3 inning. Seven were fastballs and all seven were between 101 and 102 miles an hour.
After the Cardinals were retired in the ninth, a heavy rain assaulted Great American Ball Park, a 36-minute rain delay. And the Reds got a second breath.
St. Louis closer Bud Norris was 12 for 13 in save situations entering the game. This time he got a blown save.
Schebler opened the inning with a double on a 1-and-2 pitch. After Tucker Barnhart struck out, Norris went to 2-and-2 on Joey Votto. Catcher Yadier Molina had a mound conference and whatever he said didn’t work. Votto, 6 for 18 with two home runs for his career against Norris, slapped a run-scoring single to left field, drawing the Reds to within 6-5.
Scooter Gennett struck out on a 2-and-2 pitch and the Reds were down to their last out. Eugenio Suarez had a 1-and-1 count when Molina had another mound confab. That didn’t work, either. Suarez blooped an end-of-the bat single to center, putting runners on third and first.
Jesse Winker pushed a ground ball single to left field against the shift on the first pitch, plating the tying run, 6-6. With a chance to end it, Jose Peraza hit a soft line drive to first base.
That sent it to the 10th inning and the ultimate demise. The Reds outhit the Cardinals, 13-8, but were 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners.