CINCINNATI -- Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez hit dramatic clutch home runs in the late innings each of the previous two nights. But Suarez hitting a first-inning homer vs. the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon was no less important.Making a quick impact, Suarez made sure Cincinnati avoided a third straight no-hitter
CINCINNATI -- Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez hit dramatic clutch home runs in the late innings each of the previous two nights. But Suarez hitting a first-inning homer vs. the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon was no less important.
Making a quick impact, Suarez made sure Cincinnati avoided a third straight no-hitter scare with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning that set a 7-3 win in motion at Great American Ball Park.
"I didn't expect to hit that one out today," Suarez said after the Reds took two of three in the series from the Cardinals. "[I said] 'OK, one more against St. Louis is nice.' We always want to beat those guys."
It marked the first time in Suarez's career that he hit a home run in three consecutive games. The last Reds third baseman to achieve that feat was Aaron Boone in 2002. Todd Frazier also hit three homers in three games in '14, but he played first base in the middle of that streak.
Despite missing 16 games with a fractured right thumb in April, Suarez leads the National League with 76 RBIs while batting .305/.390/.576 with a team-leading 22 homers. He also came into the day fourth in the National League with 3.6 offensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference. Earlier this month, Suarez was an All-Star for the first time.
"He's been doing it all year. It's nothing different than he's done all season," said Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, who also hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning. "The kind of year the guy is having -- and he missed a month earlier in the year -- it's some kind of special. I'm glad he's on our team, that's for sure. Having to call pitches against him would be tough. He's one of my favorite teammates I've ever had."
Cincinnati was no-hit through seven innings by starting pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon in his Major League debut on Monday before getting its first hit in the eighth against reliever Jordan Hicks. But down 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Suarez hit the game-tying homer to left field against closer Bud Norris to set up a 2-1 Reds victory.
Lefty Austin Gomber took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Tuesday before Joey Votto broke it up with a one-out single. Suarez followed by hitting a Gomber pitch to center field for a game-tying two-run homer.
"He's not on our Christmas card list right now," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said of Suarez after Tuesday's game.
Against Jack Flaherty on Wednesday, Suarez lifted a 2-1 fastball to the opposite field and watched it clear the right-field wall. It gave a lift -- and an early lead -- to starting pitcher Sal Romano after some defensive miscues by the Reds forced him to battle hard during a scoreless top of the first inning.
"That one was really good, because that ball was out off the plate," Suarez said. "My barrel caught that ball and I finally hit it well, and hit it out of the ballpark."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.