By HAL McCOY
One might say it was a case of not leaving well-enough alone.
After the Cincinnati Reds exploded for 12 runs and 14 hits Friday night, manager David Bell juggled his lineup for Saturday afternoon.
It didn’t work. The Reds went down to the St. Louis Cardinals in general and Marcell Ozuna in particular, a 6-3 loss.
Catcher Curt Casali had three hits and four RBI Friday, but was in the dugout Saturday. Jose Iglesias had two hits and a couple of exceptional defensive plays Friday, but sat near Casali in the dugout Saturday.
But that’s the way Bell has operated so far this season, preferring to play everybody, “To keep everybody sharp.”
More germane to the situation, though, was the ineffectiveness of starter Tyler Mahle, who fell to 0-and-3 due to walks and his inability to retire Marcell Ozuna, who drove in the first five runs with a three-run homer and a two-run double.
The Reds jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third against Dakota Hudson on a walk to Scott Schebler and a run-scoring single by Jose Peraza and an excuse-me bloop double down the right field line by Eugenio Suarez.
After Mahle stranded runners in each of the first two innings, he walked Matt Carpenter with one out in the third. Paul Goldschmidt singled, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.
Mahle retired Paul DeJong for the second out but Ozuna crash-landed one into the left center seats, a three-run home run to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead.
Mahle retired the first two in the fifth and had two strikes Goldschmidt, but walked him. Paul DeJong singled and Ozuna missed by a foot of another home run. The ball hit a foot below clearing the right field wall and went for a two-run double. That gave Ozuna five RBI and the Cardinals a 5-2 lead.
The Reds rescued one run in the sixth on a double by Jesse Winker, a single by Eugenio Suarez and a sacrifice fly by Yasiel Puig.
St. Louis captured back that run in the sixth against struggling Zach Duke. He hit two batters, Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong, and pinch-hitter Harrison Bader singled to right for a run and a 6-3 lead.
Mahle pitched five innings and gave up five runs, all driven in by Ozuna, seven hits, walked three and struck out two.
After stroking 14 hits Friday, the Reds had half that Saturday, none after Puig’s one-out single in the sixth. And the only base runner was a walk to Winker with two outs in the eighth.
Flame-thrower Jordan Hicks, he of the routine 101 and 102 miles an hour fastballs, finished it off. He retired Derek Dietrich on a grounder off a 101 pitch, retired Tucker Barnhart on a fly ball to left off a 102 pitch and struck out Scott Schebler on an 88 miles and hour breaking pitch.
Barnhart, who took Casali’s place, went 0 for 4 and is hitting .207. Schebler, who struck out three times Friday, was 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts Saturday and is hitting .132.