By HAL McCOY
The offensive-challenged Cincinnati Reds discovered some bats that work Friday night in Busch Stadium III.
It was as if the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals exchanged uniforms for this game.
The Reds pole-axed five home runs en route to a 12-1 victory over the National League Central’s first place team, a team that is adept at scoring runs in bunches and in heaps.
And in the process the Reds performed something never done before — home runs from the No. 9, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 batters in the lineup.
They didn’t come in that order, but they came often and they reverberated around Busch in front of a full house of 45,087 fans.
It began in the first, a home run by Eugenio Suarez. It continued in the fourth with a home run from Jesse Winker, hist team-leading seventh. Next was one by Joey Votto in the fifth, his third. All those were solo shots.
Yasiel Puig made in four homers with a two-run rip to center field in the eighth. The loudest and the longest was a third-deck monster 432-foot explosion from Jose Peraza.
Peraza’s homer made it 7-1 in the ninth and it was just the beginning of a six-run inning, highlighted by a three-run double by catcher Curt Casali. Casali had three hits and a tied his career-best with four RBI.
The inning ended when the Cardinals brought in position player Jedd Gyorko to face Phillip Ervin and he struck him out — the only thing Cardinals fans had to cheer all night, but a lot of them already had vacated Busch.
Nearly lost in the concussion from Cincinnati’s bats was the struggle-from-trouble pitching of Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani.
In the past the Cardinals have treated DeSclafani like a disliked second cousin.
And during his five innings he must have felt as if he was in a bird sanctuary because there were Cardinals all over the basepaths.
In his five innings, the Cardinals had runners on base every inning. He put seven runners on base in five innings and none scored.
St. Louis stranded one in the first, two in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth.
For his five innings, DeSclafani gave up no runs, four hits, walked three, hit one and struck out six.
The Reds raked 14 hits, three by Casali, two by Puig for three RBI, two by Votto, two by Winker, two by Jose Iglesias and two by Peraza.
Defense was a part of it, too. The infield bailed DeSclafani out of jams by turning two double plays with some flashy glovework from third baseman Eugenio Suarez and shortstop Jose Iglesias. And left fielder Jesse Winker threw a runner out at second trying to stretch a single into a double.
The Cardinals were on a five-game winning streak and were 10-and-3 at home. The Reds, though, are perhaps sending a message that they are no longer everybody’s pushover. They’ve won six of their last eight and while they still are in last place they are creeping ever closer to .500 at 11-14 after a 1-and-8 start to the season.