CINCINNATI -- In recent years, the Reds-Cardinals rivalry has often been one-sided in favor of St. Louis. Perhaps there's a sea change shifting it the other way. Cincinnati rallied with a five-run bottom of the seventh inning for a 6-4 victory on Wednesday, assuring a four-game series win with three
CINCINNATI -- In recent years, the Reds-Cardinals rivalry has often been one-sided in favor of St. Louis. Perhaps there's a sea change shifting it the other way. Cincinnati rallied with a five-run bottom of the seventh inning for a 6-4 victory on Wednesday, assuring a four-game series win with three straight victories.
The Cardinals were leading, 4-1, until a pinch-hit three-run home run to right field by Patrick Kivlehan against Brett Cecil. Later, with two outs and Zack Cozart on second base, Joey Votto slugged Trevor Rosenthal's first pitch into the left-field seats for a two-run homer and the go-ahead runs.
"When we can come back tonight and kind of get that win and kind of get us going, I think it's a good thing," Kivlehan said.
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It was another devastating defeat for the Cardinals, extending their season-high losing streak to six games. They've blown leads in the seventh or eighth innings in five of those losses, have dropped 16 of their last 21 games and have lost 14 games this season after leading by at least two runs. The seventh inning has been particularly problematic, with the Cardinals being outscored, 42-18, in that frame.
"Getting the consistently good [outings from relievers] are the ones that are a challenge right now," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That seventh inning certainly stands out as one that's been difficult to get through. We've had some guys in different roles in the bullpen still trying to figure it out. Whether that's a lot to put on them or not, that's what they're here for -- to get outs and figure out how we can get them to do their part, no matter what inning it is."
The Reds have taken 10 of the last 15 games played against their National League Central foe and have won two of the three series vs. St. Louis in 2017, with one tie pending the makeup of a rained-out game.
"There was always 'The Cardinal Way' that you hear about, and we weren't successful even when we were really good in '12 and '13," Cozart said. "It was such a battle with them and we didn't come out on top as much as we think we should with them. We have such a different group of guys now to where there's no thought about who we're playing, it's more about ourselves, and if we take care of business, we have a chance to win."
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Reliever Wandy Peralta pitched 1 1/3 innings for the victory following Bronson Arroyo's start. Peralta had replaced Arroyo in the sixth with two runners on and gave up pinch-hitter William Fowler's RBI double for a 4-1 deficit. A second runner, Eric Fryer, was thrown out at the plate to end the inning on a nice relay from Billy Hamilton to Scooter Gennett to Devin Mesoraco.
St. Louis led early after it capitalized on a two-out rally in the third inning against Arroyo to take a 3-0 lead. Leadoff hitter du jour Matt Carpenter hit a solo homer to right-center field and Stephen Piscotty hit an RBI double two batters later. Jedd Gyorko's RBI single plated the third run.
Scott Schebler got one run back for Cincinnati against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn with a leadoff homer to right field on a first-pitch breaking ball that hung over the plate. It was Schebler's 17th homer of the season, tying him for the NL lead, and fourth against the Cardinals this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lynn departs after 78 pitches: Lynn was lifted in order for Fowler to bat in the sixth, ending his night after five innings and 78 pitches. Lynn had allowed one earned run and three hits in the game. It was a curious move for Matheny to ask his struggling bullpen to cover the final four innings, something that has proved a tall task, especially during the losing streak.
"Trying to get offense," Matheny explained. "We've been having trouble scoring runs. We need to take a chance."
The move caught Lynn by surprise.
"I was expecting to get that at-bat and pitch deep in the game," said Lynn, who had his helmet on and bat in hand when told he was being removed. "I was ready to go."
Kivlehan comes through: With runners on first and second base and one out in the seventh, Kivlehan attacked a 1-0 fastball from Cecil and powered it to the opposite field. The drive landed in the right-center-field seats and gave Kivlehan the first pinch-hit homer of his brief big league career. Cecil entered the night having made seven straight scoreless appearances.
"It was awesome," Kivlehan said. "I knew it's been a while since I've gotten a hit or a pinch-hit hit, so I just said, 'You know what? If I pinch-hit today, I'm not taking any swings before. I'm just grabbing my bat and going up there.' And it seemed to have worked today."
"You hope that when you do go through them, they're not long. It's longer than we would like it right now. But we've got one more tomorrow here on the road. Hopefully we win that one and get back home and kind of regroup, take a deep breath and get after it." -- Lynn, on the team's longest losing streak since 2013
A SECOND LOOK
In the top of the sixth inning, Fryer tried scoring a second run from first base on Fowler's RBI double to the center-field wall. The throw to the plate beat Fryer and Mesoraco tagged him for the third out. The Cardinals challenged the call, citing a violation of the home-plate collision rule. Upon review, the original decision was confirmed and no rule violation was found.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will close out their seven-game road trip with an 11:35 a.m. CT game against the Reds on Thursday. Mike Leake, whose 2.64 ERA ranks third lowest in the National League, will take the mound still seeking his first win against his former team. He is 0-3 with a 4.95 ERA since leaving the Reds in 2015.
Reds: The four-game series and homestand concludes with the 12:35 p.m. ET game vs. St. Louis on Thursday. Scott Feldman has not completed six innings in his past two starts and in three of the previous four. But he had one of his better 2017 outings vs. the Cardinals on April 9 in an 8-0 win, when he tossed six scoreless innings, with four hits, one walk and six strikeouts at Busch Stadium.
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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.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast.