De La Cruz’s speed, sparks Reds over Cardinals 4-3

Published 7:59 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023

Cincinnati Reds’ Elly De La Cruz, left, scores ahead of the tag from St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday in St. Louis. The tag was no good anyway because the ball is next to Contreras’ right foot. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A day after Elly De La Cruz jokingly dubbed himself “the fastest man in the world,” the rookie backed it up in the series finale with St. Louis.

De La Cruz flashed his speed, getting two hits, reaching base four times and scoring the go-ahead run with a headfirst slide on an eighth-inning grounder that sparked the Cincinnati Reds over the Cardinals 4-3 on Sunday.

“Yeah, I’m more faster,” De La Cruz said with a smile through a translator. “Whenever they don’t pitch at me, it gives me an opportunity to contribute when I’m on base. Whenever I’m on base, I’m going to be able to score.”

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De La Cruz beat out an infield single in the first inning with 31.2 foot per second sprint speed, the 21-year-old getting to the base ahead of 41-year-old pitcher Adam Wainwright.

“I knew I could get it,” De La Cruz said. “We hustle every time.”

De La Cryz tied the score 2-2 with an RBI single in the third. He De La Cruz walked in the sixth, stole second and scored on Tyler Stephenson’s single to tie the score 3-3.

Then in the eighth, De La Cruz walked on a full-count offering from Jordan Hicks (1-4) leading off, advanced on Spencer Steer’s groundout and took third on Willson Contreras’ passed ball.

With the infield in, Stephenson hit a two-hopper to Paul DeJong, and the shortstop’s throw was slightly up the first-base line and in the dirt. The ball bounced off Contreras’ mitt as the catcher tried for a swipe tag, and De La Cruz slapped the plate with his left hand.

“Right there, I was just trying to score a run for the team and help the team win,” De La Cruz said. “I’m glad I was able to score that run.”

Said Stephenson: “I was just as shocked when I turned around and saw safe. He’s an incredible talent. Just what he can do with his speed.”

Cincinnati manager David Bell was impressed.

“That run there was all speed,” Bell said. “It’s a different level of speed to be able to beat that play. It was a solid hit ball to a shortstop with a really good arm. He just outran the throw. It’s pretty incredible.”

De La Cruz is hitting .364 (8 for 22) with five walks, three stolen bases, a .481 on-base percentage and an 1.117 OPS in six games since his debut Tuesday. He has a double, triple, home run and four RBIs.

“He’s a good player and he uses his speed appropriately and in a couple of different ways,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “He beat us.”

Ian Gibaut (6-1) allowed one hit in 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Alexis Díaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to remain perfect in 15 save chances as the Reds took two of three from the Cardinals.

“It was a great series,” Bell said. “It’s always tough coming in here against this team. All three were hard-fought games. We felt we had to play really well to get two wins here.”

St. Louis went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and is 9 for 70 (.129) in its last 12 games. The last-place Cardinals are 7-15 in one-run games and dropped eight games behind Pittsburgh, the NL Central leader. St. Louis has lost seven of its last nine.

“We’re all very upset about how things are going. We keep showing up and expecting it to be different and it keeps not being different,” Wainwright said. “The only common denominator we’ve had is that we’ve find out ways to lose. We’re losing in different ways every game.”

Jonathan India homered in the first but the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the second on Jordan Walker’s run-scoring single and Tommy Edman’s RBI grounder.

Nolan Arenado hit an RBI triple in the third.


Wainwright gave up three runs and right his in 5 2/3 innings and is 0-1 in his last three outings. He made his Wainwright’s 397th start, third for St. Louis behind Bob Gibson and Bob Forsch. … Cincinnati’s Hunter Greene made his first start since June 1 and gave up three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. His fastball averaged 98 mph, down 0.6 mph from his season average. He skipped his prior scheduled start because of stiffness in his right hip.


Edman made his 10th appearance this season in center. He also has appeared at shortstop (27 games), second (21) and right (eight). The only other Cardinal in franchise history to appear in 10-plus games at second base, shortstop, and center field was Dave Brain for the 1904 Cardinals.


Paul Goldschmidt was caught stealing in the seventh inning. That ended a streak of 30 consecutive stolen bases without being caught since 2019.


Reds: Optioned RHP Kevin Herget to Triple-A Louisville. Herget pitched 1 1/3 innings Saturday after being recalled earlier that day. He allowed three runs and four hits.


Reds: RHP Casey Legumina (bruised right ankle) returned from a rehabilitation assignment and was reinstated Sunday from the 15-day injured list. He is 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in eight relief appearances this season. … 3B Nick Senzel (right knee injury) is on track to join the team in Houston and be activated Friday.

Cardinals: OF Tyler O’Neill (lower back strain) received two injections in his back on June 1 in Los Angeles: a cortisone and lidocaine injection and an epidural for nerve blocking. He is to meet Thursday with the doctor who gave the injections and might be able to resume baseball activities the following day.


Reds: RHP Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.27) will make his second career appearance and start Monday against the Royals, who will go with RHP Zack Greinke (1-6, 4.59). On opening day, Weaver went on the 15-day injured list with a right elbow flexor strain and made his season and Reds debuts on April 20. Greinke is 8-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 14 career starts against Cincinnati.

Cardinals: LHP Matthew Liberatore (1-2, 6.00) will face San Francisco’s RHP Logan Webb (4-6, 3.09) on Monday. In his last start, Liberatore lasted just four innings, allowing five runs and his first home run of the year.

Cincinnati St. Louis
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Friedl cf 5 0 1 0 Donovan 1b 5 0 2 0
McLain ss 5 0 1 0 Goldschmidt dh 4 1 2 0
India 2b 4 1 1 1 Gorman 2b 4 0 0 0
De La Cruz 3b 3 2 2 1 Arenado 3b 3 0 1 1
Steer 1b 4 0 0 0 Contreras c 3 1 0 0
Stephenson dh 4 0 1 2 Carlson rf 3 1 1 0
Hopkins pr-dh 0 0 0 0 Walker lf 3 0 1 1
Benson rf 4 0 3 0 DeJong ss 3 0 0 0
Fairchild lf 4 0 0 0 Burleson ph 1 0 0 0
Casali c 4 1 1 0 Edman cf 4 0 0 1
Totals 37 4 10 4 Totals 33 3 7 3

Cincinnati 101 001 010 4
St. Louis 021 000 000 3

DP–Cincinnati 0, St. Louis 1. LOB–Cincinnati 9, St. Louis 7. 2B–Friedl (10), Donovan (5), Carlson (5). 3B–Arenado (2). HR–India (7). SB–De La Cruz (3).

Greene 5 1-3 6 3 3 2 9
Gibaut W,6-1 1 2-3 1 0 0 0 0
Sims H,7 1 0 0 0 1 1
Díaz S,15-15 1 0 0 0 0 0
St. Louis
Wainwright 5 2-3 8 3 3 1 2
Stratton 1 1-3 1 0 0 0 1
Hicks L,1-4 1 1 1 1 1 1
Pallante 1 0 0 0 1 1

HBP–Greene (Carlson). WP–Stratton.

Umpires–Home, Adrian Johnson; First, Manny Gonzalez; Second, Quinn Wolcott; Third, Junior Valentine.

T–2:43. A–42,445 (44,494).