Reds rookie reliever Logan Ondrusek committed the unpardonable sin of walking Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan on four pitches to give the Cardinals runners at first and second with nobody out in the seventh inning of a tie game Wednesday night.
That meant that Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, perhaps the best Nos. 3 and 4 batting punch in the game, would hit with men on base. They produced as expected. Pujols singled home one run, Holliday doubled off the base of the center field wall for two more, and the Cardinals were on the way to their second consecutive victory.
While Pujols and Holliday were doing their jobs, so, too, was Adam Wainwright, the other half of perhaps the best 1-2 starting pitching punch in the league with Chris Carpenter. Wainwright gave up just three hits over seven innings, one of them a two-run homer by Orlando Cabrera in the sixth inning.
But, even though the home run tied the score, Wainwright wasn't worried.
"I didn't hold my head down," he said. "I knew the guys would come back and score, and also that I was throwing the ball great. That's how I pitched last year."
Last year, Wainwright led the National League in wins (19) and in innings pitched (233).
Ryan Franklin, who had 38 saves last year, got his first of this season with a scoreless ninth. Franklin, who labored down the stretch in 2009 and into spring training this year, was bailed out by two consecutive stellar catches by right fielder Ryan Ludwick to end the game.
"I'll let Luddy be the hero
Though a couple of balls were hit
hard in the inning,
CARDINALS 6, REDS 3: RHP Adam Wainwright, 10-2 against the National League Central last year, started this season in the same fashion. He faced just four hitters over the minimum in seven innings, and the Cardinals had timely hitting up and down the lineup. They had no homers as compared to four on Opening Day, but 3B David Freese, the No. 8 hitter, drove in two runs with singles, and RF Ryan Ludwick, the No. 6 hitter, had a two-out single to score a run.
--CF Colby Rasmus has been as impressive as any Cardinals player so far. Rasmus, for the second straight game, had two hits, and he also walked twice, stole a base and alertly advanced from second to third on a grounder to third base. "I don't know how you can play the game any better than he is," manager Tony La Russa said.
--2B Skip Schumaker, who struggled much of the spring, has had just one hit in 10 at-bats in two games, but the hit was an important one. He opened a four-run rally in the seventh with a single off LHP Daniel Ray Herrera.
--3B David Freese, the eighth-place hitter, is 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position, delivering three RBI singles. With the lineup he has ahead of him, Freese knows he will get plenty of chances to drive in runs. He failed on another occasion Wednesday, fouling out with runners at first and third and one out in the sixth.
--RHP Kyle McClellan, who had a good spring as a starter and then a lights-out bullpen appearance to close it, was scored on for the second straight day out of the bullpen. He gave up a run in the eighth inning on two doubles. McClellan did strike out two hitters, though.