ST. LOUIS -- Homer Bailey entered Friday night with an extensive rope, but it wasn't on account of any past domination. Bailey (1-13, 6.13 ERA) had to take the 12-5 loss to the Cardinals in the first game of the series at Busch Stadium on the chin following back-to-back extra-inning thrillers against the Brewers that used up a tired bullpen.
Four consecutive singles in the first inning from the heart of the Reds' lineup secured a pair of runs off pitcher Austin Gomber, but the Cardinals were quick to strike back. A Eugenio Suarez error and misread by Billy Hamilton on a Gomber double resulted in four unearned Cardinal runs in the second, capped off by a 2-run homer by third baseman Matt Carpenter.
"The first thing I thought when I made contact was, 'Wow, I just hit that really hard,'" Gomber said. "And then, my second thought was, 'Whoa, that's probably going to be right at him.' But he was playing pretty shallow, maybe didn't get the best read on it. It fell."
Bailey gave up a three-run home run to Paul DeJong in the third and ended up working five innings with seven runs (three earned) allowed on nine hits.
"[Bailey]'s getting closer and closer to being what he can be, but as he goes through it, he's not getting away from anything," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Hitters are all over his stuff and he's pitching into some bad luck."
The Reds bullpen as a whole was already taxed and Jackson Stephens made his third straight appearances when he took the hill against the Cardinals, putting Riggleman, who said before the game he'd have to leave pitchers out there longer than he'd like, in a tough spot.
In response to a depleted bullpen, the Reds recalled Matt Wisler on Friday afternoon. He tossed two scoreless innings of relief in his Reds debut, allowing one hit with three strikeouts. Stephens allowed five runs in the eighth, which prompted Riggleman to pitch infielder Brandon Dixon.
"We needed Homer to throw a bunch of pitches today and get us to Wisler, and then we're hoping we'd get through it with maybe those two guys and we didn't. But we scored, which put us in a position to pinch-hit and we were back in the game at that point," Riggleman said. "We will take that, of course, but it was the way it went."
Scott Schebler, who racked up three hits (and came a triple shy of the cycle), made it interesting with a two-run home run off Cardinals pitcher Brett Cecil in the eighth. The Reds finished with 14 hits.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Reds tallied a three-run eighth that was sparked by the two-run homer from Schleber. But the comeback ended abruptly with a monster five-run bottom of the eighth allowed by Stephens. A Patrick Wisdom home run, three base hits, two walks and a hit by pitch fueled the Cardinals' rally.
"Jackson Stephens gave us everything he had, but that was the third day in a row for him also, so a tough challenge," Riggleman said. "We are just running into some really good lineups and haven't been up to the task to hold those lineups down."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Dixon replaced Stephens in the eighth after the reliever gave up five runs. Dixon retired Wisdom on a flyout, throwing a 59-mph slider.
HE SAID IT
"He did a nice job. He seemed to throw strikes, composure, work fast, all the things you ask for pitchers, but a little small sample size to make too much of a judgment." -- Riggleman, on Wisler
The Reds return to Busch Stadium for the second game of the series against the Cardinals on Saturday night at 6:15 p.m. CT, and both clubs could be seeing reinforcements with the roster expansion. Luis Castillo (7-11, 5.07 ERA) opposes righty Daniel Poncedeleon (0-0, 2.08). The last time Castillo pitched in St. Louis was on July 14 in an 8-2 win. The right-hander pitched five innings, allowing two runs.