By Hal McCoy
For 41-year-old St. Louis Cardinals best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, Great American Ball Park has been a personal house of horrors.
In seven previous starts in GABP, the Cincinnati Reds have taken him to the woodshed — 0-and-5 with a 6.35 earned run average.
And he was not on his best pitching behavior Tuesday night in GABP, giving up five runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.
But his offense put him in a comfort zone by assaulting struggling Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft, who gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.
It added up to an 8-5 St. Louis victory and Wainwright had his long awaited win. It was the 12th win in 15 games for the Cardinals and the seventh loss in nine games for the Reds.
The never-quit Reds put a fright into the Cardinals in the ninth. Down, 8-5, the first two Reds made outs and they were down to their last out against Ryan Helsley.
Kevin Newman singled, TJ Friedl walked and Matt McLain walked to load the bases.
That brought up Jonathan India, batting third in the order for the first time in a Reds uniform. TJ Friedl, fresh off the injured list, took India’s normal leadoff spot.
And this situation was exactly why manager David Bell placed the hot-hitting India in the three-hole. But he grounded into a game-ending force play.
Among the ten hits given up by Ashcraft were two home runs by Paul Goldschmit, who came into the game 1-for-21 with nine strikeouts.
Goldschmidt homered to left in the first inning to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. The Reds struck back with a run in the bottom of the first.
With two outs, India singled and Jake Fraley ripped a run-scoring double to left. India scored in the first inning for the 15th time this season.
The Cardinals scored one in the first, two in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth, all against Ashcraft.
St. Louis took a 3-1 lead in the second when the Cardinals easily stole second against the unattentive Ashcraft. That put both in scoring position for a single Brendan Donovan and a sacrifice fly by Tommy Edman.
Goldschmidt’s second home run, a blast to right, made it 4-1 in the third.
The Reds drew to within 4-3 in the bottom of the third on rookie Matt McLain’s first major league home run, a two-run jolt to right field.
The Cardinals put distance between them in the Reds with three runs in the fourth, punctuated by Edmon’s two-run triple. Edman, a switch-hitter, opted to bat right-handed against the right-handed Ashcraft because Ashcraft has been more effective against left handers.
The Reds scored runs in the fifth and sixth on Friedl’s run-scoring double, his second double of the game, and Nick Senzel’s run-producing double.
That cut the Cardinals lead to 7-5 and it stayed that way until St. Louis added a big run in the ninth against Alan Busenitz. Once again Edman batted right-handed against the right-handed Busenitz and shot a double up the left-center gap. He scored on a Lars Nootbar single to make it 8-5.
Before trudging to the GABP mound, Wainwright told the St. Louis media, “For me, this place is a disaster. I don’t know how to explain. There is no excuee for it.”
After giving up 11 runs in 10 1/3 innings in two appearances in GABP last year, he was somewhat better, just enough to claim a victory.
There was added spice in the third inning provided by a frustrated Nolan Arenado. He was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts Monday and was angry with fist base umpire Will Little, who called him out on a checked swing.
Little, behind the plate Tuesday, called Arenado out on strikes in the first inning. When he hit into a double play to end the third, an 0 for 7 start with four strikeouts to start the series, he erupted at the umpires and was ejected. And St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol went with him.