ST. LOUIS — Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 2, Reds 0
A popular discussion topic among Cardinals fans this season has been trying to determine where the team would be without Adam Wainwright.
Another just as pertinent question might be, “Where would the Cardinals be without Luis Garcia?”
An unknown even after the Cardinals signed him as a free agent on July 9, three days after he was released by the Yankees while pitching in Triple A, Garcia has increasingly been called upon to come out of the bullpen in clutch situations, and that was the case again on Sunday.
With the Cardinals clinging to a 2-0 lead over the Reds and a runner on first base with one out in the sixth, Garcia relieved J.A. Happ and promptly got Nick Castellanos to fly out on the first pitch, then struck out Joey Votto.
Garcia also got an out to open the seventh before leaving after a pinch-hit single but T.J. McFarland, another mid-season addition to the bullpen, got an inning-ending double play and the Cardinals went on to the victory, their second win in the three-game series.
They trail the Reds by just a game in the race for the second wild-card spot, just behind the race-leading Padres.
After giving up six runs in his first three appearances for the Cardinals, which totaled just one inning, Garcia has not allowed a run over 21 consecutive outings, covering 24 innings, dating back to July 28.
In that stretch he has allowed just 13 hits, walked three and recorded 23 strikeouts.
The only runs of the game came on Nolan Arenado’s two-run homer in the first, his second in consecutive at-bats after his game-winning homer on Saturday night.
Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals only had three hits in the game, including a single by Tyler O’Neill in advance of Arenado’s homer, his 31st of the year, producing his 95th and 96th RBIs … Their only other hit was a one-out single by Tommy Edman in the sixth after Sonny Gray retired 14 hitters in a row … A walk to Paul Goldschmidt followed the hit by Edman but the Cardinals failed to add to their lead as Tyler O’Neill struck out and Arenado flied to center, their only two at-bats in the game with a runner in scoring position.
On the mound: Happ had failed to get out of the second inning in his last start against the Reds, giving up seven runs and getting just three outs. On Sunday he allowed only two hits, both singles, over 5 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four, allowing only one runner past first base … After the Garcia-McFarland tandem got through the seventh, Genesis Cabrera pitched around a leadoff double in the eighth, stranding the runner at third … Giovanny Gallegos gave up a two-out pinch-hit double in the ninth that brought the tying run to the plate, but he struck out Max Schrock to end the game and finish off the Cardinals’ 14th shutout of the season, the sixth caught by Andrew Knizner.
Key stat: The last time the Cardinals posted a shutout over the Reds at home, with all of their runs scoring on a home run, was on April 24, 2011 when Yadier Molina hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning for a 3-0 victory.
Worth noting: After missing three games because of a sore left wrist, Edmundo Sosa entered Sunday’s game as part of a double switch and was hitless in two at-bats. He is expected to be back in the lineup on Monday night … Matt Carpenter was ejected in the fourth inning for complaining from the bench about a checked swing call against Arenado … After his rehab start for Double A Springfield on Sunday night, Dakota Hudson is expected to make one start for Memphis next week and then the Cardinals hope he will be ready to rejoin the team for the rest of the season, most likely in a relief role …Jordan Walker, the second-ranked prospect in the organization, homered twice for Peoria on Sunday, giving him four homers in his last five games. It was the first multiple homer game of his pro career.
Looking ahead: Adam Wainwright will get the start on Monday night when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Mets in New York.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains