ST. LOUIS — Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Reds 5
The fans who came to Busch Stadium on Friday night hoping to see another home run from Albert Pujols got their wish – and an extra historical moment as well.
After Pujols tied the game with the 698th home run of his career in the sixth, the night also became one to remember for Ryan Helsley.
Helsley became the first Cardinal since Jason Isringhausen in 2002 to pitch an immaculate inning – nine pitches, nine strikes – to close out the win over the Reds. It is only the third known immaculate inning in franchise history, with the other thrown by Bob Gibson in 1969.
The Cardinals trailed 4-1 going to the sixth and Pujols’ homer followed a double from Paul Goldschmidt and an RBI single by Nolan Arenado. Five of the last six home runs by Pujols either tied the game or gave the Cardinals the lead.
Pujols also has driven in at least one run in his last six games. The longest RBI streak of his career is eight games, which he set with the Cardinals as a rookie in 2001 and equaled in 2003.
The win reduced the Cardinals magic number for clinching the NL Central to 11, with 17 games remaining in the regular season.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: After Pujols hit his 19th homer of the year, the Reds regained the lead but it was short-lived as Goldschmidt hit his second double of the game in the seventh to drive in Brendan Donovan, who had walked, before he scored the go-ahead run on a double by Arenado … It was the 111th RBI of the season for Goldschmidt and the two RBIs in the game for Arenado increased his season total to 98 … Pujols came up again in the seventh but his bid for his 699th homer was caught at the wall in left … The Cardinals had only two hits through the first five innings.
On the mound: Jack Flaherty allowed four runs on six hits in his five innings of work. In his three starts since returning from the injured list he has allowed a combined eight runs in 15 innings … The go-ahead run for the Reds in the seventh came on a leadoff home run by Kyle Farmer off JoJo Romero … Chris Stratton was able to get the final out of the inning, stranding two runners, before Giovanny Gallegos worked a 1-2-3 eighth and Helsley got his three strikeouts in the ninth for his 18th save.
Key stat: The Cardinals are now 15-1 this season in games when Pujols hits at least one home run. Their only loss came on April 17.
Worth noting: Three of the Cardinals’ top prospects – outfielder Jordan Walker, shortstop Masyn Winn and righthanded pitcher Tink Hence – are among eight players who will represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League, which begins Oct. 3. Also named Friday to the roster of the Salt River Rafters were pitchers Kyle Leahy, Ryan Loutos and Connor Thomas; catcher Pedro Pages and outfielder Mike Antico, who will be part of the taxi squad. Tyger Pederson, the hitting coach at Springfield, will be part of the coaching staff … Dylan Carlson began a rehab assignment with Memphis on Friday night, playing centerfield for seven innings and hitting two doubles in three at-bats. He is scheduled to DH on Saturday and play center again on Sunday … Steven Matz will make one more rehab assignment for Memphis, on Sunday, and then both he and Carlson are expected to join the Cardinals in time for next week’s road trip.
Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson and Jose Quintana will be the Cardinals’ starters for Saturday’s day-night doubleheader, which includes the makeup game for the July 17 rainout.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains.