ST. LOUIS -- Given the poor start to their season, the Reds' robust play the past two months still doesn't change that, mathematically, they have less than a one-percent chance of reaching the postseason. But the way the club is playing and beating playoff-contending teams has Cincinnati feeling excited about
ST. LOUIS -- Given the poor start to their season, the Reds' robust play the past two months still doesn't change that, mathematically, they have less than a one-percent chance of reaching the postseason. But the way the club is playing and beating playoff-contending teams has Cincinnati feeling excited about the direction in which the team is headed.
An 8-2 Reds win over the Cardinals on Saturday at Busch Stadium means they snapped a six-series losing streak to the Cardinals by taking the first two games of the three-game set that will conclude the first half. They've also won three straight games against their National League Central nemesis after dropping each of the first seven games between the two in 2018.
"It's huge," Reds right fielder Scott Schebler said. "They've kind of owned us this whole year so far. We obviously know that. To get some back, is really nice."
More importantly, the Reds are 5-3 so far on their 10-day, nine-game road trip, meaning they are guaranteed to fly home with a winning record after playing three playoff contenders in the Cubs, Indians and St. Louis.
Since they earned a win to close out three-game series vs. the Cardinals on June 10, the Reds own an NL-best 21-9 record. The highlights of this stretch include a four-game sweep of the Cubs at home, taking two of three in a road series at first-place Atlanta, splitting a four-game series with the first-place Brewers and the current road trip.
"We're playing good baseball right now," said Reds shortstop Jose Peraza, who had the first five-hit game of his career on Saturday. "We're playing really good baseball. Everybody's doing something. That's what everybody wants -- win the game, play hard."
Two lengthy rain delays on Saturday meant tedious amounts of waiting. Before the second delay, which lasted one hour and 51 minutes, the Reds trailed by a 2-0 score after five innings. They went on to score eight unanswered runs, including a four-run seventh.
Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty had five scoreless innings but was knocked out by the delay, and the Cardinals bullpen didn't get the job done when play resumed. Against Mike Mayers in the sixth, Joey Votto led off with a double and scored the Reds' first run on Scooter Gennett's RBI double.
In the pivotal seventh, rookie reliever Jordan Hicks hit the leadoff man, pinch-hitter Dilson Herrera, with a 101-mph fastball to begin a rally. With the bases loaded and no outs, Peraza's comebacker off of Hicks bare hand went for a RBI single. A one-out single to right field by Gennett scored Billy Hamilton with the tying run, and Eugenio Suarez's two-run single put Cincinnati ahead by three runs.
Insurance runs followed during the 14-hit game, as the Reds added two more runs in the eighth and one in the ninth.
"This one just got away," said former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who was dismissed after the game. "That's a team that's swinging the bat very well over there and not letting you get away with many mistakes."
The first of the two rain delays came after the first inning, but not before Matt Carpenter opened the bottom half with a leadoff homer to right field against Reds starter Luis Castillo. Following the 52-minute delay, Castillo retired the Cardinals in order on five pitches and retired a stretch of 11 of 13 batters.
In the bottom of the fourth, Kolten Wong hit a leadoff double to right field and went to third base on a Yadier Molina groundout. Marcell Ozuna was able to score Wong on a squib hit.
Castillo gave up two earned runs and five hits over five innings with no walks and two strikeouts before the second delay completed his start.
"That was a long day, but when you win those kind of ballgames, you don't care how long it is," said interim manager Jim Riggleman, who has a 40-37 record for the Reds since he took over a 3-15 club on April 19.
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All five hits by Peraza were singles, but it was his hard bouncer that hit off the hand of Hicks that changed the game and scored the tying run. In his last 30 games, Peraza is batting .333 (38-for-114), raising his overall average to .288.
"I feel good," Peraza said. "I'm seeing the ball. Good things happen."
The Reds have scored eight or more runs in consecutive games for the fifth time this season, tying them with the Cubs and Dodgers for second-most and trailing only the Brewers (6) in the NL.
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St. Louis had a chance to increase its lead in the bottom of the fifth before the second wave of showers. With runners on second and third base with no outs, Tommy Pham hit a sharp grounder to third base. Suarez tried to tag out William Fowler, who was called out for going outside the baseline and threw to first base for the double play that crushed the rally. Flaherty lined out to end the inning.
"That was a heck of a play," Riggleman said. "We talk about [Suarez] as being a great third baseman, and that was an example of it. Not only does he make the play on Fowler, but he has the arm strength to turn and throw."
To wrap up the first half of the season, the Reds will conclude their series with the Cardinals at 2:15 p.m. ET Sunday. Anthony DeSclafani (4-1, 4.43 ERA) will make the start for Cincinnati against St. Louis' All-Star starter Miles Mikolas (10-3, 2.65). With his secondary stuff ineffective, DeSclafani has stuck to four-seam fastballs while pitching to contact, and that strategy was successful during his 7-5 win over the Indians on Monday. Over seven innings, DeSclafani allowed one earned run and five hits.
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.