By HAL McCOY
Sonny Gray needs to change his deodorant, change the day he pitches or change his mind about signing a long-term contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
Something is missing — mostly runs from his teammates when he pitches.
When Gray is on the mound Cincinnati’s bats spend the day in the clubhouse freezer and it happened again Sunday afternoon in Busch Stadium III.
During his five innings, the Reds scored no runs and they didn’t score any for anybody until the ninth inning. They scored two, but they needed at least five and lost, 5-2.
In his six starts, the Reds have scored 0, 0, 1, 1, 3 and 0 while he was on the mound.
On Sunday, he held the Cardinals hitless until the fourth inning when he gave up two runs. And that’s all he gave up during his five innings of two-run, three-hit pitching with two walks and five strikeouts. And all he got was his record reduced to 0-and-4 despite a 3.64 earned run average.
“I got zero swings-and-misses on my breaking pitches and that’s my best pitch,” Gray told the media after the game during a post-game interview. “So that shows I didn’t have my best stuff.”
With one out in the fourth, Paul DeJong doubled into the left field corner and Gray walked Paul Goldschmidt on four pitches. Jose Martinez singled to right for a run and Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly to right for a 2-0 lead.
Amazingly, the Reds put runners on base in seven of the first eight innings without scoring. But the only time they had a runner in scoring position over those eight inning was in the first.
Joey Votto opened the game by reaching on an error. With two outs, Yasiel Puig walked to push Votto to second but Tucker Barnhart lined hard to second base and Kolten Wong made a diving catch.
From there no Reds runner reached second base through the eighth inning.
It stayed 2-0 until the bottom of the eighth when the sun intervened. Kolten Wong hit a routine fly to center and Scott Schebler flipped down his sun glasses to track it. But he lost it and was screaming, “I can’t see it, I can’t see it.”
Right fielder Yasiel Puig should been there to help, but was nowhere in sight and the ball plopped to the grass for a double.
Relief pitcher David Hernandez retired the next two — no harm, no foul. The Reds, though, decided to intentionally walk Marcell Ozuna, who drove in five runs Saturday.
Hernandez then unintenionally walked Harrison Bader on a full count to fill the bases. Yadier Molina shattered his bat, but the ball zipped through the infield and into center field for two runs. Dexter Fowler doubled for another run and a 5-0 lead.
Those three runs in the eight proved mammoth when the Reds finally climbed out of bed and scored two runs in the ninth off relief pitcher Dominic Leone.
Jesse Winker doubled to open the ninth, but Yasiel Puig and Tucker Barnhart made outs. Jose Iglesias singled and Winker took third. Iglesias took second on a pitch without a throw.
Then a funny thing happened. Scott Schebler got a hit. He was 0 for 19 when he doubled to right field for two runs, lifting his average to .139.
The Cardinals brought in John Gant to face Derek Dietrich and the game ended on a line drive to first base.
St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty worked out problems nearly every inning and got a couple of double plays to help him hold the Reds scoreless on four hits over seven innings.
After beating the Cardinals Friday night, 12-1, the Reds lost the next two and the series. Now they move to New York to play four games against the Met in Citi Field.