The Cardinals bullpen, for the most part, had been reliable since right-hander Ryan Franklin was demoted from the closer job and other roles were shuffled.
But, on Friday night, Cardinals relievers allowed the leadoff man to get on base in four consecutive innings, from the seventh through the 10th. The Reds scored in every one of those innings but the eighth, and Cincinnati ultimately won 6-5 in the 10th on Joey Votto's two-out, run-scoring single off right-hander Jason Motte.
The Reds actually put the
leadoff man on in each of their last six innings, including the last two innings
The Cardinals led 4-0 and 5-2, but the game started to turn in the top of the seventh when Yadier Molina bounced into a mound-to-home-to-first double play that cut short a rally that could have blown the game open.
Bench coach Joe Pettini, replacing ailing manager Tony La Russa said,
"If you get a sac fly or a base hit, that opens it up a little bit. The other club looks at it as a negative."
Young right-hander Eduardo Sanchez had converted saves in each of his first four opportunities but had shown control issues lately. He had problems again in the ninth when he walked Edgar Renteria to open the inning. Renteria would score on Brandon Phillips' single to tie the game.
Pettini said Sanchez, 22, "still has to get his feet wet and get his confidence up a little more. He has the stuff to do it, but he needs to throw strikes."
Sanchez has issued at least one walk in seven consecutive appearances.
The Cardinals have an impressive 11-9 road record, but almost incredibly, they have suffered six of their road losses in walk-off fashion.
Pettini cited the theme of the day.
"What you want to stay away from (in the late innings) is walks, especially to leadoff hitters," he said. "They always come back to haunt you."
NOTES AND QUOTES
3B Daniel Descalso continued his good clutch hitting, driving in two runs with a pair of two-out hits. Descalso doubled in a run in the fourth inning and singled in a run in the sixth as the Cardinals boosted their two-out run total to 99, by far the highest in the majors.
Five Cardinals relievers each walked one hitter over the last four innings. That encompassed RHP Miguel Batista, LHP Trever Miller, RHP Fernando Salas (an intentional walk), RHP Eduardo Sanchez and RHP Jason Motte. Motte's walk was on a close 3-2 pitch to Reds SS Edgar Renteria, ahead of 1B Joey Votto's game-winning single. Of the walk to Renteria, Motte said, "I thought it was a strike. It wasn't."
RHP Kyle Lohse worked six strong innings but missed out on what would have been his fifth victory when the bullpen couldn't hold a 3-2 lead. Lohse has worked at least six innings in each of his first eight starts, but he admitted his command was off Friday, when he allowed seven hits and walked two. "It seemed like I was out of the stretch a lot," Lohse said. "Walking a couple of guys didn't help. It would have helped to go a little deeper in the game."
Lohse did get out of a few jams, notably in the third, fifth and sixth innings.
"That was something I wasn't able to do the last couple of years," said Lohse, who had been injured. "I didn't know where the ball was going."
Manager Tony La Russa, recovering from shingles and not on the road with the team, went to Busch Stadium on Friday to do some work. But general manager John Mozeliak said no decision would be made on La Russa's potential return until Sunday night or Monday.
More Reds-Cardinals intrigue: Reds chief operating officer Bob Castellini reacted harshly when made aware of a radio rights holder running a giveaway for "Tony La Russa shingles." Castellini, a former Cardinals minority shareholder, heavily criticized WLW for running a roofing company's ad making light of the Cardinal manager's affliction.
"The Reds were not aware WLW was putting together this contest," Castellini said in a statement. "It is in bad taste and does not reflect the spirit of respectful competition the Reds and our fans have toward Tony La Russa and the Cardinals. We are disappointed our rights partner would execute such a contest and fail to consult us in advance so we could have prevented it from happening."
SS Ryan Theriot missed a second consecutive game with a strained right oblique. He hopes to start Saturday.
2B Skip Schumaker (right triceps strain) may be able to start a minor league rehab assignment next week. He has been sidelined since April 16.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 – Number of blown saves by Cardinals relievers this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was good, clean baseball played by two really good teams. There will be a lot more games played like that between us and the Reds."
- Acting manager Joe Pettini on what often has been a contentious rivalry but wasn't on Friday.
SS Ryan Theriot (sore right side) didn't play May 12-13. He expects to be back in the lineup May 14.
3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July.
2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He might start a rehab assignment during the week of May 16-22.
LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He was throwing but not catching in early May, and the timetable for his return was uncertain.
RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.