ST. LOUIS — Saturday’s Game Report: Reds 5, Cardinals 2
It was a simple question, and Cardinals manager Mike Shildt needed only one word to answer it.
If he knew before this series began that the Reds would be a combined 2-of-29 with runners in scoring position, is there any way he would have thought the Cardinals would have lost all three games?
“Nope,” Shildt said.
After losing the first two games of the series when the Reds went 1-of-16 with men on second or third, the Cardinals held them to one hit in 13 at-bats in those situations on Saturday at Busch Stadium – and lost again.
“Some days you just can’t explain this game,” Shildt said. “It’s a beautiful game. That’s the thing about it, you play the game and hold them to 2-of-29 and you feel good about it, but we haven’t been able to cash in when we’ve had our opportunities.
“It’s been good games, been close, we just haven’t been able to get on top and bring it home.”
The Cardinals have held the lead at the end of a completed inning in only three of the 27 innings in the series. They led 2-1 after the first inning on Thursday night before the Reds scored twice in the second, and on Saturday, they were ahead 1-0 for the first two innings before the Reds tied it in the third.
In each game, however, the Cardinals have brought either the potential tying or winning run to the plate in the ninth inning.
“Collectively it seems like we’re all in a little bit of a rut,” said third baseman Nolan Arenado. “Hopefully we can get out of it. It’s been tough for sure lately, but every team goes through it. I know greater times are ahead.”
The loss was the fourth in a row for the Cardinals and their sixth in the last seven games.
Catcher Yadier Molina had to come out of the game in the fourth inning after he was hit on his left knee by a foul tip. The injury was described as a bone contusion and his status is day-to-day, Shildt said.
“It could obviously have been much worse,” Shildt said. “Initial findings are day-to-day and we’ll evaluate and see about tomorrow.”
Here’s how Saturday’s game broke down:
At the plate: After getting just one hit in 22 at-bats in his previous six games, Arenado had three singles on Saturday, two of which drove in the Cardinals’ only runs. He had only one RBI combined in his previous six games and has one only extra-base hit, a double, in his last 28 at-bats … His RBI singles followed a double by Tommy Edman in the first and a triple by Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth. Tyler O’Neill also doubled in the fourth, when the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out but stranded all three runners. That was their last hit until Arenado singled leading off the ninth. O’Neill doubled with one out, bringing Matt Carpenter to the plate representing the tying run. He struck out, and Edmundo Sosa flew out to center for the game’s final out.
On the mound: Starter Johan Oviedo allowed just three hits and two runs in four innings but was pulled from the game for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded and the score tied at two in the fourth. He threw 14 first-pitch strikes to the 18 batters he faced but still saw his career record as a starter fall to 0-6 in nine starts combined in 2020 and '21 … Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run homer off Ryan Helsley in the sixth, and Genesis Cabrera allowed the final run in the seventh. Two of those runs were scored by hitters who reached base on a walk.
Key stat: This is the first time the Reds have won three consecutive games in St. Louis in the same year since June 5-7, 2006, the third month that Busch Stadium was open. Saturday’s game was the 126th between the two teams since those games.
Worth noting: Kwang Hyun Kim went back on the injured list on Saturday because of tightness in his lower back, which forced him out of the game after three innings on Friday night. This injury is in a similar spot to the one which forced Kim to open the season on the IL but the Cardinals don’t believe this is as serious. Because of two scheduled days off next week, it’s possible Kim will miss one start … Angel Rondon was called up from Memphis to replace Kim, and he will be used out of the bullpen … Justin Williams also went on the IL because of a stiff neck, which had left him unavailable the previous two games. Shildt thought Williams suffered the injury on the flight back to St. Louis from Los Angeles. John Nogowski was brought back up to fill that roster spot … Paul DeJong began what is expected to be a two-game rehab assignment in Memphis on Saturday night.
Looking ahead: John Gant will get the start on Sunday as the Cardinals try to keep the Reds from getting the four-game series sweep. The last time the Reds won all four games in a series in St. Louis was in 1990.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains