The Cincinnati Reds continued their struggles against the Cardinals, this time the setting was Busch Stadium in St. Louis where Michael Wacha bested Tony Cingrani in a re-match of Opening Night, 5-3 on Monday afternoon.
Cingrani (0-1) was no where near his superb first outing as he lasted just four innings with three runs allowed, five strikeouts, and four walks. Wacha (1-0) was close to his first start, going six innings while allowing one run on seven hits with three strikeouts.
The Reds (2-5) got a spark to start the game as Billy Hamilton picked up his first hit of the season after sitting out the starting lineup the last two days. Hamilton stretched what would have normally been a single into a hustle double. Brandon Phillips sacrificed him over to third, but a base running blunder reminiscent of Phillips' on Opening Day, Hamilton was caught in a run down after Matt Adams scooped a ground ball off the bat of Joey Votto and fired home. Jay Bruce would strike out and the Reds would begin a theme that was carried throughout the game.
The Cardinals (4-3) would take advantage of Cingrani, who was off his game early. It started with back-to-back singles by Matt Carpenter and Peter Bourjos, then a walk to Matt Holliday. After a strike out of Allen Craig, Reds nemesis Yadier Molina doubled in all three runners to put the Redbirds up 3-0. Cingrani rebounded by striking out Adams and then got Jhonny Peralta to fly out.
In the second Ryan Ludwick's leadoff single was erased by a double play. The third inning started another rally when Brayan Pena doubled and then Cingrani singled. Hamilton popped out and then Phillips hit into another inning-ending double play to keep Cincinnati off the board. The Reds would also strand yet another leadoff man in the fourth.
The Reds finally got to Wacha when Pena and pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina hit back-to-back doubles to cut the lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Bernadina would be stranded when Hamilton grounded out and the Phillips lined out to second.
Nick Chrisitiani did his part to keep the Reds close when he tossed two scoreless innings of relief. Trevor Bell did not have the same luck, lasting just two thirds of an inning while giving up three straight hits to add two more Cardinals runs. In his two appearances, Bell has gone 0.2 innings with five hits and five runs with no strikeouts and two walks. He is a prime candidate to be optioned off the 25-man roster when Jonathan Broxton is activated in the near future.
Curtis Partch did his best to stay on the roster, tossing 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball in relief of Bell. That allowed the Reds to make things interesting in the ninth against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
It was not a save situation and that may have affected the St. Louis pitcher. He walked Bruce and Ludwick and allowed a single to Todd Frazier to load the bases. Zack Cozart's first hit of the season scored Bruce and then Pena came up looking for his fourth hit of the day, but struck out swinging. Neftali Soto remains hitless through his first 13 career at bats, but did notch his first RBI on sac fly to score Ludwick and make it 5-3. Hamilton would fly out to center with the tying run at first to end the game.
The Reds hope for a reversal of fortune in the re-match of Homer Bailey (0-1, 8.31 ERA) against Lance Lynn (1-0, 5.40 ERA). Neither pitcher was stellar in outing number one, with both pitchers out of the game by the end of the fifth inning. First pitch is set for 8:15 p.m.
Cincinnati did make two roster moves on Monday by activating Devin Mesoraco from the disabled list and optioned Tucker Barnhart, who appeared in three games and picked up his first big league hit. The Reds also re-signed Chris Nelson to a minor league contract and sent him to Triple-A Louisville.