McCoy: Steer ‘steers’ Reds to 5th straight win

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Spencer Steer is a stand-in at first base for recuperating Joey Votto and Steer couldn’t stand any taller.

His two-run home run over the 37-foot Fenway Park Green Monster in the seventh inning Wednesday night broke a tie and was the impetus to a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

The Reds, streaking like the Super Chief, have won five straight and have clenched the three-game series.

An omen? The last time the Reds won a series against the Red Sox was in 1975 when they won Game Seven of the World Series.

Both Milwaukee and Pittsburgh won games Wednesday, so the Reds remain three games behind the first place Brewers and two games behind the second place Pirates in the National League Central.

But both teams have to feel the hot breath of the Reds on their necks.

After losing seven of their first eight one-run games, Wednesday’s one-run win was their 10th this season against 12 losses

The Reds trailed Boston, 3-2, entering the seventh inning. Luke Maile grounded to third and Rafael Devers threw wildly to first, the 20th throwing error by the Red Sox infield this season.

Kevin Newman, batting leadoff for only the second time this season, singled and Matt McLain singled, filling the bases with no outs.

The tying run scored when Jonathan India hit into a double play and that brought up Steer with two outs. He unloaded his eighth home run to give the Reds a 5-3 lead.

The dramatics, though, were not over.

With one out in the seventh inning, Enmanuel Valdez was awarded first base on Curt Casali’s catcher’s interference. With two outs and left-handers Alex Verdugo and Devers due up, manager David Bell brought in left-hander Alex Young.

Did he get those two lefties out? Nope. Verdugo singled and Devers walked on a full count, loading the bases. And because Young faceed only two hitters and by rule had to face three, Bell was forced to keep him on the mound to face dangerous right-hander Justin Turner.

Did he get Turner? Indeed. He grounde hard to shortstop and Matt McLain made a superb play to throw him out.

And there was more drama.

Masataka Yoshida led the eighth wjth a double off Lucas Sims. With one out, Jarren Duran doubled off The Monster, scoring Yoshida. It was 5-4 with the potential tying run on second base. Sims applied the silencer on a line drive to center by pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia and he struck out Valdez.

Now Bell had another dilemma. Closer Alexis Diaz had appeared in three straight games, so Bell had to chose another pitchere to finish it.

He chose Buck Farmer and he went 1-2-3, retiring Devers to end it on a deep fly to center that Nick Senzel caught at the base of The Monster. It was Farmer’s third career save.

The Red Sox took an early 2-0 lead against Cincinnati starter Luke Weaver. Yoshida curled a 359-foot home run inside the Pesky Pole in the first first corner in the second inning.

The Red Sox pushed it to 2-0 in the third on Connor Wong’s single and a two-out double by Devers.

The Reds cut it to 2-1 in the fifth against Boston starter James Paxton. He had retired eight in a row, the last four via strikeouts.

He struck out Stuart Fairchild and Tyler Stephenson to open the fifth. But he walked Jose Barrero and Maile doubled high off The Monster to score Barrero.

Boston’s Valdez dropped a 350-foot home run barely over the top of The Monster in the fifth and the Red Sox were on top, 3-1.

The Reds retrieved a run in the sixth. Paxton had given up one run and only three hits in five innings, but he is coming off an injury and is building up innings, so he was replaced in the sixth.

Relief pitcher Kutter Crawford immediately walked Jonathan India and Steer. But the next two Reds made outs. Senzel picked on the first pitch and singled to center, scoring India and drawing the Reds to within 3-2.

That set it up for the seventh inning and Steer’s heroics, which helped the Red Sox to their seventh loss in nine games.

McCoy: Reds Hold Off Bosox, 9-8

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

When Trader Jack McKeon managed the Cincinnati Reds, one of his favorite sayings was, “When Mr. Opportunity knocks, you open the door and say, ‘Come on in.’”

And the current Reds put that saying to good use Tuesday night in Fenway Park during a heart-thumping 9-8 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Heart-thumping? The Reds owned an 8-0 lead in the seventh inning, but the Red Sox scored three in the seventh and five in the ninth. And they had the tying run on third when closer Alexis Diaz struck out Triston Casas to end it.

With Milwaukee’s loss to Toronto, the Reds moved to within three games of the division-leading Brewers. And they are two game behind second place Pittsburgh.

Incredibly, entering the seventh inning, the Reds were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and had stranded 10 runners.

Yet, taking advantage of other non-RISP opportunities, the Reds led, 3-0.

Jose Berrero took care of the RISP problem in the seventh inning with a grand slam home run that clanked off a light tower above the Green Monster left field wall.

The Reds received production from unexpected parts of their roster.

Barrero entered the game in the sixth, replacing TJ Friedl when he left the game with tightness in his left hamstring. Barrero drew a walk his first time before his grand slam. He also played a ball off the wall in the fifth with the Reds ahead, 3-0. He made a perfect relay peg to shortstop Matt McLain and McLain’s on target throw home wiped out Kike Hernandez at home.

Seldom-used Will Benson was 2 for 27 when the night began but chipped in with three hits, including a triple, and scored three runs.

And starting pitcher Ben Lively, a stand-in due to an injury to Nick Lodolo, pitched his third straight strong game — 5 2/3s innings, no runs, four hits, two walks and six strikeouts for his third win. And he lowered his earned run average to 1.99.

Boston starter Brayan Bello was all over the place with his pitches and the Reds forced him to make 97 pitches and chased him off the mound jn four innings.

But because the Reds kept leaving the bases strewn with runners, they only led, 1-0 after five innings. That run came in the second inning on Benson’s single, a single by Stuart Fairchild, and a fielder’s choice by Friedl when the Red Sox failed to run an inning-ending double play.

They made it 2-0 in the fifth when Jonathan India singled and scored from first on Jake Fraley’s double. They added a run in the sixth on Benson’s single, a wild pitch, a walk and a throwing error by shortstop Hernandez, permitting Benson to score.

Then came the game-clinching five-run seventh, five runs on two hits. Boston pitcher Joely Rodriguez gave up a single to Spencer Steer and loaded the bases. First he walked Fairchild and to force in a run.

And Barrero unloaded his first career grand slam.

As it turned out, Barrero’s home run made it 8-0 and it was needed. In fact, a sacrifice fly by Steer after Stephenson’s triple in the eighth produced the ninth run, the margin of victory

The Red Sox scored three in the seventh off Fernando Cruz and three with one out in the ninth against Eduardo Salazar. That forced manager David Bell to rus in closer Diaz, who had minimal time to warm-up, to face Masataka Yoshida, the potential tying run.

Yoshida double home a run and Jarren Duran grounded out as a run scored to make it 9-8 with the potential tying run on third. Diaz struck out Casas to end it.

The Reds finished 1 for 15 (Barrero’s grand slam) with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.

Barrero has kept his constant smile and his positive attitude despite losing the shortstop job to McLain. He has started a few games in center field and replaced the injured Friedl Tuesday in mid-game.

“Center field was my first position anyway,” Barrero told Bally Sports during a post-game interview. “I’ll play anywhere the team needs me to play and I’m always here for them. Wherever I play I’ll give it 100 per cent of my ability to help the team get a win.

“It was my first time in Boston in Fenway, my first career grand slam, so what can I say. . .it was amazing,” he said. “The team is playing really well (five wins in their last six, four in a row scoring eight or more runs) and the vibe is really good in the clubhouse. The most important thing was that we were winning at the end of the game.”

OBSERVATIONS: Reds Ready for Boston Tea Party?

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if the Cincinnati Reds rapid ascent is for real or are they temporarily a bunch of Alices in Wonderland

—OFF TO BUNKER HILL: So it is all a matter of perspective, or in real estate jargon, “Location, location, locations.”

After taking Memorial Day off, the Cincinnati Reds embark on their baseball version of Bunker Hill, a three-gane series in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.

Perspective and location? Boston is 28-25 and in fourth place in the American League East, 9 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Reds are 24-29 and in third place in the National League Central, four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. If the Reds were in the AL East, they would be entrenched in last place, 13 1/2 games behind the Rays.

Perspective and location? At 24-29, the Reds have a better thn the San Diego Padres (24-30). The Padres payroll is $251.1 million and the Reds payroll is $82.6 million, which shows money can’t buy happiness nor success in baseball.

The top four Padres contracts exceed the Reds’ total payroll: Xander Bogaerts $25 million, Yu Darvish $24 million, Juan Soto $23 million, Joe Musgrave $20 million. That’s $92 million for four guys to Cincinnati’s $82.6 million total payroll.

The highest paid Reds are not playing. Joey Votto, on the season-long injured list, makes $25 million, nearly one-third of the team’s payroll. And they are still paying Ken Griffey Jr. his $3.6 million a year in deferred payments.

After that, the highest-paid Reds are utility player Kevin Newman at $2.5 million and pitcher Luke Weaver at $2 milllion.

And what are the best players being paid? It’s shocking: Hunter Greene, $1.3 million; Jonathan India, $760,000; Jake Fraley, $740,000; Tyler Stephenson, $740,000; Alexis Diaz, $730,000; Stuart Fairchild, $722,500; TJ Friedl, $722,500; Spencer Steer, $720,000; Matt McLain, $720,000.

—QUOTE(S): From the baseball movie Major League:

Janice Bowden: “I hear baseball players make awfully good salaries nowadays.”

Catcher Jake Taylor: “Well it all depends on how good you are.”

Janice Bowden: “How good are you?”

Jake Taylor: “I make the league minimum.”

—HAPP NOT HAPPY: How does a team go 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position and still win? That’s what the Reds did Sunday and still won, 8-5.

It was against the Chicago Cubs and that pretty much explains it.

Chicago’s Ian Happ, the utlimate Reds killer, went 1 for 11 in the three-game series, struck out five times and stranded four runners.

THE MERCENARIES—From all I’ve heard, Amari Cooper is a great kid. But he is emblematic of what’s wrong with the transfer portal. So far, Cooper has played basketball at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Missouri, Wright State and is now transferring to the University of Tampa.

The weak NCAA should re-institute the rule that if a player transfers he has to sit out a year. That would put a stop to the mercenary players changing schools like they change their Fruit of the Looms. But these days the NCAA is powerless and feeble.

—OH, WILBUR: A baseball writer once described a player this way: “There isn’t anyone in the major leagues who looks less like a ballplayer. He’s a pot-bellied guy with thinning blond hair, blue eyes and a pleasant round face. Soft-spoken with a distinct Boston accent, he has a sense of humor he would often display around teammates.”

Who is he describing?

That would be knuckleball pitcher Wilbur Wood, of whom the same writer, Edgar Munzel of the Chicago Sun-Times, called the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball pitchers. No respect.
From 1971 through 1974 he won 20 or more games four times — 22, 24, 24 and 20, the most wins by any major league pitcher in those four seasons.

In 17 years he won 164 games, pitched 114 complete games and 24 shutouts. In those days of a four-man rotation, Wood made 49 starts in 1972.

In 1973, he was 24-20, the first pitcher to win 20 and lose 20 since Walter Johnson went 25-20 in 1916 for the Washington Senators. And it hasn’t been done since.

In one game in 1973, he entered a game against Cleveland in the 17th inning and at one stretch struck out 14 of 15 hitters. But the Indians got to him in the 22nd inning and beat him.

—JUDGE-MENT DAY: Everybody knows good Aaron Judge is with a baseball bat in his hands. He hits baseballs so far they issue air raid warnings in the next county.

But the guy is a sorcerer with the glove, enaacting more robberies than John Dillinger. And Judge does it legally.

On Memorial Day, he hit two home runs against Seattle and leaped above the right field wall to take away a home run from Teoscar Hernandez.

So who are the last five players to hit a home run and rob an opposing player of a home run in the same game. They are Miike Tauchman of the Chicago Cubs, Aaron Judge, Aaron Judge, Aaron Judge and Aaron Judge.

—QUOTE: From New York Yankees superstud Aaron Judge: “You have to earn your job every day.” (He does that every day, and knocks opposing pitchers out of their jobs.)

—FORD OR GOODMA: Somebody asked me, “If they made a movie and your character was in it, who would you want to play you?”

That’s easy. Harrison Ford. I always liked leather jackets and fedoras (Indiana Jones). But they’d probably give the part to John Goodman.

—QUOTE: From movie star Harrison Ford: “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” (For sure. After traveling coast-to-coast with the Reds for 37 years, my personal odometer had to be replaced six times.

McCoy: Reds Sweep Cubs, Grab Third Place

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Just call the Cincinnati baseball franchise The Relentless Reds.

Suddenly, after sweeping three games this weekend from the woebegotten Chicago Cubs, the Reds find themselves in third place in the National League Central and are taking dead aim at the second place Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds completed the sweep Sunday afternoon in Wrigley Field with an 8-5 win, their first sweep in the Windy City in a decade (August, 2013). In the three games the Reds scored 25 runs and sprayed 45 hits around The Friendly Confines.

The degree of difficulty takes an upward turn for the Reds, three straight opponents with winning records.

After taking Memorial Day off, the Reds open a three-game series in Fenway Park Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox, then four at home against the Milwaukee Brewers and three against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The victory Sunday was highlighted by four more hits by scorching-hot rooke Matt McLain, raising his average to .380. Kevin Newman reached base five straight times with three walks and two singles. And Spencer Steer contributed a two-run home run.

Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, much-troubled in his previous four starts (seven or more runs in three of those strarts), righted himself. He pitched five innings and gave up three runs on five hits and was credited with the win, leveling his record at 3-3.

All three runs against Ashcraft came on one swing of the bat bvy Patrick Wisdom in the second inning. With two outs and two on, Ashcraft had Wisdome 1-and-2, then fell to 3-and-2, and Wisdom drove one 424 feet halfway up the left field bleahers that tied the game, 3-3. Wisdom hit a second home run, a two-run blast in the eighth off Kevin Herget, but the Reds were in command, 8-3, at the time.

Chicago starter Drew Smyly took the mound with a 5-and-1 record and a 2.93 earned run average. In his previou three starts against high-level teams, the New York Mets, Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins, Smyly pitched 17 innings and gave up just five runs and 13 hits.

But Smyly’s only loss before Sunday was a horrendous outing against the Reds in Great American Ball Park in early April — seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

And the Reds took him to task again Sunday — five runs ane seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Why have the Cubs lost 11 of their last 14 and crash landed in last place? So many ways and Sunday was a microcosm.

—In four of the first five innings, they put their leadoff man on base and only once did they score. They were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.

—The first two Cubs singled in the fourth and never budged as the next three went strikeout, strikeout, ground ball.

—They loaded the bases with one out in the sixth against Lucas Sims and the next two went pop-up, ground ball.

—The Reds fifth inning said it all for the calamitous Cubs.

Matt McLain opened with a single, his third of his four hits. Smyly had him picked off first, but McLain broke for second and stole it when first baseman Trey Mancini’s throw was weak and wide.

Smyly tried to pick McLain off second and threw the ball into center field, moving McLain to third.

Spencer Steer lifted a pop foul and as catcher Yan Gomes was set to catch it Mancini ran into him and Gomes dropped it.

That forced Smyly to make a bunch more pitches before Steer popped out on the ninth pitch. He fouled off six pitches, four straight on a full count.

Smyly then walked Tyler Stephenson on four pitches, ending Smyly’s day.

Jeremiah Estrada replaced Smyly and pinch-hitter TJ Friedl doubled home McLain to break a 3-3 tie. Estrada then walked Nick Senzel to fill the bases and walked Kevin Newman on a full count to force in another run.

—The Cubs bullpen is a mess and the Reds took full advantage pulling away after Smyly left in a 3-3 game. Estrada permitted two runners inherited from Smyly to score.

Steer provided the breathing room with his two-run homer in the eighth that pushed the Reds’ lead from 5-3 to 7-3.

In 14 innings during the series, Chicago’s bullpen gave up 10 runs and 21 hits. By contrast, Cincinnati’s bullpen gave up three runs and eight hits over 11 2/3 innings.

Alexis Diaz, the strikeout machine, recorded his 12th save by strikingj out the side in the ninth.

McCoy: Reds Sniffing Third Place

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

The Cincinnati Reds are so close to third place in the National League Central they can reach out and touch the St. Louis Cardinals.

Had the Cardinals lost Saturday night in Cleveland, the resrugent Reds would be in third place right now, but the Cardinals beat the Guardians, 2-1, in 10 innings.

While the Reds and Cardinals both are four games out of firstr place, St. Louis is 24-30, a .444 percentage, to Cincinnati’s 23-29, a .442 percentage.

As it is, the Reds climbed over the Chicago Cubs Saturday in Wrigley Field with an 8-5 victory, claiming fourth place and knocking the Cubs to last place. The Cubs have lost 10 of their last 13, including the first two games of this series to the Reds.

And there is no doubt that the National League Central is MLB’s weakest division, a division that is there for the taking to any of the five teams, including the Reds, whom most prognosticators predicted to finish last.

Manager David Bell’s recent decision to drop leadoff hitter Jonathan India to third in the order was a judicious move. India cranked two home runs and drove in five runs as part of Cincinnati’s 12-hit attack.

India’s first home, which he dropped into the basket that protudes in front of the right field wall, lifted the Reds from a 4-3 deficit to a 5-4 lead that they never relinquished.

His second was a long-distance explosion deep into the left field bleachers, a two-run rip that pushed the Reds in front, 8-4.

The Cubs hadn’t scored in 17 inning when they scored a run in the first and constructed a 4-1 lead against Reds starter Brandon Williamson after two innings.

But struggling pitcher Jameson Taillon, 0-3 with an 8.10 earned run average, was not up to holding that lead, even though he was 32-2 for his career when his team gave him at least a thraee-run lead.

After Williamson gave up four runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings, the Reds bullpen of Buck Farmer, Ian Gibaut, Alex Young and Alex Diaz gave up one run and two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.

The Reds staged their comeback with a high degree of difficulty. Their first six runs came with two outs.

The first run came in the second inning on Tyler Stephenson’s double and Nick Senzel’s two-out single.

The second run came in the third TJ Friedl’s double and India’s two-out single, the first of his five RBIs.

Taillon retired the first two Reds in the fifth and walked Friedl. He stole second and scored on Matt McLain’s single. Indian then unloaded his first home run and it was 5-4 for the Reds.

And the sixth run came with two outs in the sixth. After walks Spencer Steer and Senzel, catcher Curt Casali, 1 for 24, poked a run-scoring single up the middle.

The Reds top three batters in the order combined for seven hits, six runs scored and six RBIs. Friedl was 2 for 4 with two run, McLain was 2 for 5 with two runs and an RBI and India was 3 for 5 with two runs and five RBI.

The ultra-aggressive Reds made a couple of baserunning blunders that didn’t hurt them. India tried to stretch his run-scoring single in the third to a double and was thrown out at second, ending the inning. Jake Fraley had third base stolen in the seventh but overslid the bag and was tagged out.

Aggressiveness by Friedl in the first inning nearly cost him a dislocated shouler. He ran full speed, left shoulder first, into the brick wall in left center trying to catch Dansby Swanson’s triple. But he not only stayed in the game, he doubled, walked and beat out a bunt for a single.

And Friedl helped slap the faux pas play of the on the Cubs. With Christopher Morel on first and one out, Patrick Wisdom lifed a fly ball to center. Friedl acted as if he lost the ball in the lights and Morel broke for second. Friedl caught the ball easily and fired to first base to double off Morel.

McCoy: Greene, Reds Muzzle Cubs, 9-0

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Hunter Greene felt like a Stranger in Paradise during Friday’s matinee in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs.

When he looked at the mammoth green manual scoreboard in center field after the fifth inning, there was a ‘7’ on the Cincinnati Reds’ runs line.

In seven of his previous 10 starts, the Reds scored one or fewer runs.

And while his teammates took care of the offense en route to a 9-0 rout, Greene was an impossible task for the Cubs.

Greene pitched six no-hit innings, walked two and tied his caree best with 11 strikeouts.

How good was he? For five innings, he didn’t even need an outfielder as no balls left the infield. It ended when Nico Hoerner lined out to left leading off the sixth.

And why was Greene lifted after six innings? It was his usual bugaboo. . .his pitch count. He threw 110 pitches. He went to 3-and-2 counts on six batters. But he struck out four of them.

“Filling up the (strike) zone was super important today,” said Greene during his post-game media interview. “And I continued to be aggressive.”

Greene was more interested in thanking the offense for its 19-hit assault while he helped stick the Cubs with their first shutout loss of the season.

“That put me in a better mentality,” he said. “I could just fill up the zone and compete. To feel that support early (two runs in the first) and to continue to hit throughout the game, not just that first inning, was great.”

For the first time, Greene’s catcher was veteran Curt Casali, who guided his way. The Reds own three shutouts and Casali has caught all three. And the Reds are 7-and-0 when Casali starts behind the plate.

Before the game, the Reds wondered which Justin Steele would they see? Steele was 6-and-1 with a 2.20 earned run average this season. But in four starts for his career against the Reds his earned run average was 7.31.

And exactly a year ago, Steele started a game in Cincinnati that the Reds won, 20-5.

It was the ‘old’ Steele, The Reds ripped him for six runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings. He fooled nobody. Even Cincinnati’s outs echoed loudly in ‘The Friendly Confines.’

For the game, none of the 19 hits were home runs, but seven were for extra bases. Matt McLain, Tyler Stephenson, Spencer Steer and Stuart Fairchild each contributed three hits. Steer had a single, double and triple.

Everbody in the starting lineup but Jonathan India had at least one hit and India produced a sacrifice fly.

Casali’s only hit came in the ninth inning, a two-run single, his first RBIs this season and he said of his offensive struggles, “It was a long, painful road. Sometimes those kinds of hits (a blooper to right) might turn things around for you. It’s no secret I’ve been struggling and I’m just trying to put all that behind me to make up for it.”

And Casali guided Greene to his first win of the season after four defeats. Of catching all three Reds shutouts, Casali said, “Yeah, I’m really proud of those zeros.”

For the Cubs, it was a repeat performance after they were crunched Thursday by the New York Mets, 10-1. For the Reds it was a reverberating and resounding bounceback from a 2-1 loss Thursday to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Eduardo Salazar, just called up from Class AAA Louisville, maintained the no-hitter with a 1-2-3 seventh, but gave up a pair of singles in the eighth to Christopher Morel and Miles Mastrobuoni.

Chicago starter Steele had given up two total runs in the first innings in his first 10 starts. The Reds, though jumped on him for two in the first on four hits, including McLain’s infield hit, a triple by Steer and a single by Stephenson.

They added one in the third on Stephenson’s two-out double and Nick Senzel’s single. Three more came across in the fourth on India’s sacrifice fly and run-scoring singles by Steer and Stephenson.

Of the run explosion when he seldom sees runs crossing the plate, Greene said, “It is out of my control and I trust these guys to the fullest because they work super hard.

“I’m at the beginning of my career so to get caught up in that would be foolish,” he added. “It is just baseball and not everything works.”

About the bombardment of Steele, Greene said, “It shows the mentality our hitters have no matter who is on the mound or what the stats are. They are going out there swinging and believing in our team.”

McCoy: Reds Waste Weaver’s Gem

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

Luke Weaver did the best any pitcher can do while trying to beat the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday afternoon in Great American Ball Park — no runs, three hits in 6 1/3 innings of masterful pitching.

On most days, perhaps 99 per cent of the time, that means a victor for you and a victory for your team.

But his Cincinnati Reds teammates could do nothing offensively to help him against St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas.

He matched Weaver zero-for-zero — no runs, five hits in seven inning of equally masterful pitching.

So it came down to a bullpen match-up and the Reds lost that battle and the game, 2-1.

The teams split the four-game series, but Cincinnati’s loss knocked it back into last place in the National League Center.

The fatal inning for the Reds was the eighth with Lucas Sims on the mound trying to protect a 0-0 tie.

He easily retired the first two Cardinals, but came apart after that when two hits, two wild pitches and a stolen base enabled St. Louis to score its two runs.

With two outs, Lars Nootbaar singled and took second on a wild pitch. Nolan Gorman doubled to break the 0-0 tie. Gorman then stole third and came home on another wild pitch to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

The Reds had a myriad of chances to score in the first eight inning and broke through in the ninth for a run and left the potential tying run on first base.

With one out, Spencer Steer doubled off St. Louis relief pitcher Giovany Gallegos. Nick Senzel struck out for the second out, but Stuart Fairchld ripped the next pitch into left fielde to score Steer. The game ended when Luke Maile struck out on three pitches.

The first Reds’ opportunity surfaced in the first when they had runners on third and first with one out, but Jake Fraley hit into a double play.

The next opportunity came in the fifth when Steer led with a single, but the next three Reds made routine outs.

The best chance surfaced in the sixth when TJ Friedl and Matt McLain opened with singles, putting runners on third and first with no outs.

Friedl was over-aggressive and tried to score from third on a grounder to third by Jonathan India and was throw out at home. Fraley flied to left and Tyler Stephenson grounded into an inning-concluding fielder’s choice.

Another opportunity came in the eighth whewn Cardinals relief pitcher Drew VerHagen issued back-to-back one-out walks to Friedl and McLain, but India popped up and Gallegos came in to retire Fraley.

India, batting third for the second time in his career, stranded four runners in his last two at bats. Friedl, batting leadoff, was on base all four times he batted via error, two singles and a walk, but didn’t score. Steer had two hits and scored the Reds’ only run.

The Reds were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight. After banging 18 hits Wednesday in a 10-3 win, the Reds scored one run on seven hits Thursday.

Weaver bobbed and weaved out of the few problems that surfaced. The Cardinals never had more than one baserunner in an inning until the seventh.

With one out in the seventh, Alec Burleson singled and Juan Yepez was hit with a 3-and-2 pitch. Sims replaced Weaver and Yepez took a nap and was picked off first. Sims then struck out Tommy Edman.

Weaver issued his only walk with one out in the first on a full cout to Gorman. Nothing came of it.

Yepez doubled with one out in the second and reached third on a ground ball. Nothing came of it.

Weaver retired 10 straight until Andrew Knizer doubled with two outs in the fifth. Nothing came of it.

The Cardinals were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.

St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol decided it was a good day to give his two best hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, a day of rest. He got away with it. . .barely. The Cardinals had only six hits, two by catcher and number eight hitter Knizner, neither of which did any damage.

The Reds, losers in eight of their last 11 games, open a three-game series Friday afternoon in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, losers in seven of their last 10 before playing the New York Mets Thursday night.


McCoy: Wainwright Finally Wins at GABP

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

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.

McCoy: Reds Walk-off St. Louis in 10

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

When a team holds the top four hitters in the ultra-potent St. Louis Cardinals batting order to 0 for 17, that team should win easily, right?

Cincinnati Reds pitchers did just that Monday night in Great American Ball Park and, yes, they won.

But it wasn’t easy, by any stretch. It took an excuse-me checked swing sacrifice fly in the 10th inning by Nick Senzel to give the Reds a hard-earned 6-5 walk-off victory.

And it took the escape artistry of Reds closer Alexis Diaz to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard in the eighth and ninth innings.

Spencer Steer was the Reds ghost runner to start the 10th against ‘Mr. 100 Mile Per Hour’ Ryan Helsley. He struck out the side in the ninth with 101 and 102 miles per hour four-seam fastballs.

But he walked Tyler Stephenson on four pitches and the fourth pitch was wild, enabling Steer to take third. Senzel, who had two hits, lobbed one to right field and Steer raced home with the game-winner after the catch

Senzel and Helsley are close friends. . .at least they were before Senzel’s at bat.

“That was a checked swing walk-off,” said Senzel during a post-game interview with Bally Sports. “We needed that win.”

Senzel said the team had a pre-game meeting, trying to shed the spectre of it’s three straight losses to the New York Yankees.

“It was emphasized that we have to stay aggressive and keep fighting and that’s our DNA,” he said. “Helsley, that’s my boy. Damn he’s good.”

The Cardinals probably are saying the same thing about ?Diaz. The Cardinals tied the score, 5-5, in the eighth with back-to-back doubles by Nolan Gorman and Paul DeJong against Alex Young.

Manager David Bell decided to bring in closer Diaz with one out and the go-ahead run on second base. He struck out pinch-hitter Alex Burleson and retired pinch-hitter Brendan Donovan on a fly ball.

Then came Diaz’s eventful ninth.

He walked Tommy Edman and he stole second. He struck out Paul Goldschmidt. He walked Willson Contreras on a full count. He struck out Nolan Arenado, ending his 12-game hitting streak. He walked Lars Nootbar, filling the bases. And he struck out Nolan Gorman to end the uprising.

The Cardinals, who started the season 10-24, came to Cincinnati with 11 wins in their last 14 games, including three of four from the Los Angeles Dodgers before they came to town. And the Reds had lost six of seven.

The Reds did most of their damage early against St. Louis starter Jordan Montgomery, four runs and seven hits in four innings. And the Cardinals did most of their damage against Reds starter Brandon Williamson, four runs, four hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.

Cincinnati jumped on Montgomery for two runs in the first on back-to-back doubles by Jonathan India and Matt McLain and a single by Tyler Stephenson.

Williamson issued a one-out walk to Juan Yepas in the second, walked Gorman on a full count and DeJong jolted a 410-foot three-run homer to left, pushing the Cardinals in front, 3-2.

The Reds grabbed a 4-3 lead in the third on McLain’s single and Steer’s two-run home run.

St. Louis tied it in the fifth, an inning started when Williamson walkeds Goldschmidt and threw wildly on a pickoff attempt, moving Goldschmidt to second. He scored on pinch-hitter Nootbar’s double to right and it wasw 4-4.

Cincinnati regained the lead in he fifth on Stephenson full-count walk, Senzel’s single and Will Myer’s run-scoring ground out.

St. Louis pulled even again in the on the back-to-back doubles off Young, leaving it up to Diaz and Senzel to do their things at the end of the game.

Ian Gibaut, who had given up two-run home runs to New York’s Anthony Rizzo Friday and Saturday, followed Diaz in the top of the 10th.

With a ghost runner on second, Gibaut struck out DeJong, induced a fly ball from Burleson and after walking Donovan he struck out DeJong, stranding both runners.

Mostly it was a strikeout extravaganza on both sides. The Cardinals struck out 14 times and the Reds stuck out 13 times.

As for the top four batters in the Cardinals batting order going 0 for 17, Edman was 0 for 5 with a walk, Goldschmidt was 0 for 3 with two walks (and is 1 for his last 21), Contreras was 0 for 4 with a walk and Arenado was 0 for 5.