Reds fall to Cardinals again, 6-1
ST. LOUIS (AP) — With pitchers Johnny Cueto and Michael Wacha locked in a duel, Cincinnati Reds manager Brian Price took a calculated risk.
It did not pay off and the Reds lost 6-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
The score was 1-1 with one out in the bottom of the seventh and the Cardinals had runners on second and third base. Price told starter Johnny Cueto to intentionally walk Jon Jay, who was 12 for 29 with three homers against the Reds’ ace.
The move backfired when Yadier Molina doubled down the left-field line on Cueto’s first pitch to clear the bases and deal the Reds their fifth loss in six games.
“There’s no reason to get beat right there by Jay,” Price said. “In the end, it’s just the best decision to walk Jay and go after Molina and have an idea of how we want to get the ball on the ground. It just didn’t happen.”
Cueto said the decision to walk Jay, hitting .200 this season, was not his.
“He’s the manager,” Cueto said. “He’s the one who knew. He’s the one who makes decisions. I was looking for a double play to end the inning, but the pitch kind of stayed there in the middle too much.”
Molina said he understood why Price decided to walk Jay.
“That’s baseball,” Molina said. “Try to get a good pitch to hit and try to make good contact. Everybody knows I’ve been in the league 12 years and I’m an aggressive guy. It was special, a good moment.”
Joey Votto gave the Reds a first-inning lead with his fourth homer, third against the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter led off the bottom of the inning with a double, went to third on a groundout and scored when he somersaulted over Brayan Pena on Matt Holliday’s short sacrifice fly.
Neither starter allowed a runner past first base over the next five innings. Cueto struck out five straight Cardinals in one stretch and needed only 75 pitches to get through six innings.
Wacha (2-0) gave up five hits in seven innings and continued his domination of Jay Bruce (0 for 18), Billy Hamilton (1 for 18) and Brandon Phillips (2 for 19). He also struck out Marlon Byrd twice as the Reds’ new left fielder’s average dropped to .132.
Cueto, a 20-game winner in 2014, remains winless after three starts but owns a 2.14 ERA even after allowing four runs in his seven-inning outing.
“I feel really good. I don’t think I have to change anything,” he said. “I just have to continue doing what I’m doing.”
To mark the 70th anniversary of his major league debut, Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst was honored before the game. He batted third, tripled and scored in a 3-2 loss at Wrigley Field and went on to hit .289 in a 19-year career. Schoendienst, 92, remains a special assistant with St. Louis. “With Mr. (Stan) Musial no longer with us, Red’s taken that banner for what a Cardinal looks like,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Reds: C Devin Mesoraco (left hip) returned to the club after missing the team’s series in Chicago but was not in the starting lineup. Mesoraco, 2 for 21 for the season, has not played since Sunday and is not likely to return behind the plate this weekend. C Tucker Barnhart was called up Friday and could back up Pena.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia, trying to come back from last year’s left shoulder surgery, faced minor-league hitters at extended spring training in Jupiter, Florida. He remains weeks away from a possible return, general manager John Mozeliak said.
Reds RHP Homer Bailey is scheduled to make his 2015 debut when he opposes RHP Carlos Martinez Saturday afternoon. Bailey underwent surgery last September to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm.