By HAL McCOY
It was a game divided into three parts Sunday afternoon in Monterrey, Mexico. Unfortunately for the Cincinnati Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals won two of those three parts.
Part One: The Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning off Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani on a three-run home run by Marcell Ozuna and a solo blast by Tyler O’Neill.
Part Two: The Reds scored four runs in the fifth inning, spiced by a three-run home run by Jesse Winker, his fourth home run in five games.
That tied it, 4-4.
Part Three: The Cardinals scored five runs off the Reds bullpen in the seventh inning and part three was enough to vault St. Louis to a 9-5 victory.
Thus ended Cincinnati’s four-game winning streak and they split the two-game Monterrey Mexican Series with the Cardinals in the Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey.
Home runs have been DeSclafani’s problem child the last two years and it bit him twice in the first inning.
He walked Matt Carpenter to open the game and Paul Goldschmidt doubled. With one out, Ozuna nearly reached a space satellite with a three-run home run.
DeSclafani settled down after that but the Reds weren’t doing anything against St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas.
Winker singled to open the first and didn’t score. Eugenio Suarez doubled to open the second and didn’t score. Jose Iglesias singled to open the third and didn’t score.
It took a throwing error by third baseman Matt Carpenter to open the gates in the fifth. Tucker Barnhart singled and with one out pitcher Michael Lorenzen doubled to a run, cutting the St. Louis margin to 4-1. Then Winker exploded another home run, another to the opposite field, a three-run rip to tie it, 4-4.
It stayed that way until the Cardinals came to bat in the seventh. Amir Garrett, unscored upon in seven appearances this season, walked to the mound to face Carpenter, the man whose error opened it up for Cincinnati’s four-run inning.
Carpenter made up for it. He reversed Garrett’s first pitch over the fence, a home run that gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead.
And Garrett’s one-pitch day was over. Manager David Bell brought in Jared Hughes. He retired two dangerous hitters, striking out Paul Goldschmidt and coaxing a ground ball out of Paul DeJong.
Two outs, nobody on.
But Ozuna struck again, his second home run of the game, this one landing near Guadalupe. Yadier Molina singled, Tyler O’Neill walked and Dexter Fowler singled to load the bases.
Bell brought in left hander Zach Duke to face left hander Kolten Wong and Duke walked him on four pitches, forcing in a run. Pinch-hitter Jose Martinez drilled a two-run single and the Cardinals led, 9-4.
The Reds retrieved one run, Yasiel Puig’s first home run for the Reds, a leadoff shot in the eighth. And the Reds proceeded to fill the bases, placing the potential tying run in the batter’s box. But pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer grounded into an inning-ending double play and the Reds were finished for the day.
The tally for the day, and the difference, was four home runs by St. Louis and two by the Reds. The Cardinals only outhit the Reds, 11-10, but the Reds were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
The Reds move out of Mexico to Southern California to begin a series Monday night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
It will be Jackie Robinson Night in Dodger Stadium and the pitching match-up is star quality. LA ace Clayton Kershaw makes his first start of the season and the Reds send Luis Castillo and his 0.92 earned run average to the mound.
It is Castillo’s fourth start and in his first three he has given up only two hits in each of his first three starts (all singles) and struck out eight or more each time.