Reds continue their slide toward division cellar

Published 2:21 am Tuesday, September 9, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds aren’t just losing games anymore. They’re losing pitchers, too.

Dylan Axelrod and reliever Pedro Villarreal were forced out by injuries, and the Reds’ struggling offense was held to three hits on Monday night, two ingredients for yet another lopsided loss.

Matt Carpenter hit a two-run single in the seventh inning, Matt Adams added a three-run homer, and the St. Louis Cardinals extended their surge in the NL Central with a 5-0 victory.

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The Reds had two pitchers forced out by injury.

Axelrod threw only seven pitches before pulling his right oblique and leaving the game. Left-hander David Holmberg relieved and went a career-high 5 2-3 innings, allowing four hits while throwing 81 pitches.

Holmberg will take Axelrod’s spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. He’s gone back and forth between Cincinnati and Triple-A Louisville, making two starts and one relief appearance before Monday night.

“I was definitely happy for him,” manager Bryan Price said. “That’s the reason we called him up for September, so he could have a chance at those types of opportunities. His starts this year were both one shot and back to Louisville, and we want him to get comfortable in this environment.

“He did a good job in a tough spot: Come in, warm up and go up against a competitive team.”

Holmberg didn’t have much time to get ready.

“I knew I was the long guy, but they sprung that on me kind of early,” he said. “I tried to get a couple of quick throws in the bullpen, and they said, ‘You’re in the game.’ It was definitely a confidence-builder. I was happy to get the opportunity and save some innings for the bullpen.”

Right-hander Pedro Villarreal took a grounder off his forearm in the ninth and left the game. Ondrusek replaced him and gave up Adams’ three-run homer on his second pitch.

St. Louis has won nine of 10, going from two games out to a season-high 4 1/2 games up in the division.

The Cardinals are 10-3 against the Reds this season and 40-24 against the NL Central overall.

Shelby Miller (9-9) gave up three hits while pitching into the eighth in his first victory in three starts against Cincinnati this season. Two relievers finished the three-hitter.

Carpenter’s single off Manny Parra (0-3) left Cincinnati’s bullpen 0-14 since the All-Star break, part of Cincinnati’s 16-33 slide over that time. The Reds have dropped eight of their last 10 and fallen 10 games under .500 for the first time since 2009.

The Reds went through seven pitchers overall, including four in the decisive seventh. Parra gave up Randal Grichuk’s pinch-hit double and Kolten Wong’s infield single. After Miller’s sacrifice, Carpenter singled to right off Parra for a 2-0 lead.

Miller faced the minimum 12 batters over the first four innings — Brandon Phillips singled but was taken out in a double play. Devin Mesoraco led off the fifth with a double but was stranded at second, the only Red to reach scoring position.


Slumping Cardinals OF Matt Holliday got Sunday off. He was back in the lineup on Monday and singled to end the slide at 0 for 10. He later added another single.


Carpenter has driven in a pair of runs in each of the last two games. He has three straight multihit games. … The Reds are 10 games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 23, 2009. They’re a season-high 13 games out of first place. … Holmberg’s outing was the longest by a Reds reliever since Carlos Fisher threw 5 2-3 innings during a 19-inning game on May 25, 2011 at Philadelphia.


Cardinals: INF Greg Garcia, OF Tommy Pham and RHP Sam Tuivailala were promoted from Triple-A Memphis. C Audry Perez and OF Rafael Ortega were designated for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster.

Reds: SS Zack Cozart was in the lineup for the third straight game after missing time because of a sore right wrist. He is in an 0-for-16 slump.


Cardinals: Michael Wacha (5-5) makes his third start of the season against Cincinnati. The Cardinals are 5-2 at Great American Ball Park this season and have won six in a row against the Reds overall.

Reds: Mike Leake (10-11) is coming off his worst start of the season. He gave up a season-high seven runs and three homers in only four innings of a 9-7 loss at Baltimore on Thursday.


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