CINCINNATI -- Dilson Herrera's opportunities have been sparse since he was called up from Triple-A Louisville on July 8. He had just 12 plate appearances entering Monday, but always remains engaged on the bench waiting for an opportunity. When that chance came in the ninth inning of a tie game,
CINCINNATI -- Dilson Herrera's opportunities have been sparse since he was called up from Triple-A Louisville on July 8. He had just 12 plate appearances entering Monday, but always remains engaged on the bench waiting for an opportunity. When that chance came in the ninth inning of a tie game, he delivered a pinch-hit, walk-off single with the bases loaded to cap a ninth-inning comeback and 2-1 Reds win over the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.
"It's a big situation, but you have to be ready when we are on the bench or playing," Herrera said. "You don't know who is going to get the opportunity to get that AB, but it was for me and I did a good job."
Things looked bleak for the Reds for most of the night. The team managed just one hit through eight innings and trailed 1-0 heading into the ninth inning. Eugenio Suarez represented Cincinnati's last hope when he stepped into the box with two outs in the ninth to face Cardinals closer Bud Norris. A 1-0 fastball came down the heart of the plate and Suarez demolished it into the left-field seats to tie the game and give the Reds new life.
Suarez's blast sparked a rally. Jesse Winker followed with a base hit to right field and Tucker Barnhart singled two pitches later. Norris got ahead of Adam Duvall, but Duvall fought back to draw a walk to load the bases for Herrera. The rookie was looking to jump on a fastball early, much like the three hits before him, but when a cutter hovered over the center of the plate, Herrera poked it into center field to complete the comeback. All four runs he has driven in this season have come against St. Louis.
"That pitch was in the zone," Herrera said. "I just threw my hands and made good contact."
The Reds had five total hits in the game, and four came off Norris in the ninth.
"Really big hits by both guys late, even if we didn't score," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "[Phillip] Ervin had a big hit. Joey [Votto] got on base. Duvall, his walk before Herrera's hit. A lot of quality at-bats for a game where we got only [five] hits."
Although the Reds have struggled at the plate so far in the second half, Cardinals starter Daniel Poncedeleon was quite impressive. He did not allow a hit in seven innings and allowed three baserunners all night on a pair of walks to Joey Votto and one to Barnhart in the first inning. Poncedeleon struck out three and threw 116 pitches, which prompted his exit in the seventh despite having a no-hitter.
"He was locating his fastball, a good little changeup, a cutter that kept everyone honest. He did a really good job for them," Winker said. "Hat's off to him, especially in his debut. I remember how excited I was for mine. For him to come out like that and what, seven no-hit innings? That's impressive."
Reds starter Luis Castillo pitched well in his own right, but exited in the sixth inning. The right-hander surrendered the game's first run when Matt Carpenter hit a leadoff double and scored on a Yadier Molina RBI single in the sixth. Castillo gave up four hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
Ervin broke up the no-hitter in the eighth inning when he laced a pinch-hit single off of St. Louis reliever Jordan Hicks. It's been a struggle in the second half for a Reds offense that entered the night ranked second in the National League in on-base percentage, third in batting average, and fifth in runs scored and had plated at least five runs in 11 of 14 games heading into the All-Star break.
Despite the sluggish stretch at the plate, the Reds found a way to win late. The bullpen kept them in the game upon Castillo's exit, holding St. Louis to the lone run and giving up one hit to pave the way for the opportunity in the ninth.
"Our bullpen was outstanding tonight," Riggleman said. "That was kind of the difference in the game, of course, with the big at-bats by Herrera and Suarez."
The win snapped a four-game losing streak.
"It's huge, especially after a series like Pittsburgh," Winker said. "It was one of those series where everything they did went right and we couldn't get it going against them. Geno's big swing was the key and Dilson's really, really sweet swing -- that was awesome. Any time you can pull out a win like that, there's not a better feeling."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Tommy Pham laced what appeared to be a leadoff triple off the top of the wall in left-center in the seventh inning, just out of the reach of a leaping Billy Hamilton to give the Cardinals a golden opportunity to add another run. He beat out a close throw at third base, but upon replay review, it was ruled that his left leg came off the bag on a popup slide. Suarez held the tag on him and Pham was called out. The Reds escaped the inning with no further damage.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ervin breaks up no-hitter: The Reds were looking for offense in any form when Riggleman sent Ervin to the plate as a pinch-hitter to face Hicks, who was trying to keep his club's no-hitter intact. Hicks offered a 100.8 mph fastball that Ervin sent back up the middle for the Reds' first hit of the game. It is second-hardest thrown ball the Reds have turned into a hit this season, according to Statcast™. Ervin has a hit in all four games since the All-Star break.
Right-hander Homer Bailey makes his return in Game 2 of this series against the Cardinals on Tuesday. The right-hander has not pitched for Cincinnati since May 28 and is 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA in 12 starts this season. Bailey has been on the disabled list since June 2 with right knee inflammation and made six starts with Triple-A Louisville and one appearance out of the bullpen. He compiled a 4.78 ERA at Triple-A and struck out 10 hitters in his last start. Left-hander Austin Gomber will make his first career start for St. Louis.
Brian Scott Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati